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Longer stays for breast cancer patients

Jeremy Hobson Jan 23, 2008


Scott Jagow: Today on Capitol Hill, an effort to stop what some people call “drive-thru mastectomies.” Actress Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives and some members of Congress will be pushing this new bill. It would allow women to stay in the hospital longer after breast cancer surgery instead of being sent home in an effort to save money. Jeremy Hobson reports.

Jeremy Hobson: Some 20 million people are backing this legislation on Lifetime TV’s website. The bill would force insurance companies to cover a 48-hour stay after surgery if the doctor and the patient feel it’s needed.

David Blumenthal of Massachusetts General Hospital says it’s understandable that insurance companies are wary.

David Blumenthal: The sooner the patient leaves, the less costly it is for them, and the more net revenue they will come away with.

Alan Garber directs the Center for Health Policy at Stanford. He says overall, insurance companies still save money even if some patients who didn’t stay long enough have to come back.

Alan Garber: The kinds of problems that come up are not addressed simply by keeping a woman in the hospital a day longer.

Still, advocates say mastectomies are so physically and emotionally grueling, extra hospital time makes a big difference.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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