The federal government recently made the dangerous and unprecedented move to link doctors' reimbursements for Part B drugs to their performance under Medicare's new quality program.

Part B drugs, which include complex infusion therapies used to treat diseases like arthritis and cancer, are typically administered by a specialist in an in-office setting.

Now doctors' ability to provide these treatments is in jeopardy: according to analysts, specialists who administer Part B therapies could see payment cuts of up to 29 percent as a result of the new policy.

As a rheumatologist, my patients depend on these therapies and I am deeply worried the payment cuts will force some practices to stop administering Part B drugs altogether.

Many practices already struggle with the overhead costs of obtaining and administering expensive infusion therapies. Very sick patients will then be forced to receive these treatments at the hospital or self-infuse at home -- if these are even options for them.

We need to lower drug prices, but the government should be targeting the parties responsible for high drug costs -- not the doctors who provide life-saving therapies, and certainly not the Medicare patients whose lives and well-being depend on them.

I hope our congressional leaders will put the brakes on this dangerous policy now -- before it's too late.

Christina Pohlman, La Crosse

Emma Fisher is an organizer the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, a statewide non-partisan, non-profit organization that is focused on consumer protections and public health.

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