Tag Archives: ACCC Capitol Hill Day 2016

Rep. Nolan Praises Advocacy Efforts of ACCC Members

by Amanda Patton, ACCC Communications

Rep. Richard Nolan opens ACCC 42nd Annual Meeting

Rep. Richard Nolan opens ACCC 42nd Annual Meeting

Congressman Richard “Rick” Nolan (MN-D) opened the ACCC 42nd Annual Meeting on Thursday paying tribute to ACCC membership. “I want to thank you for all that you do,” he said.

“You are part of the team that comes together to be there for people at the most challenging and emotionally difficult and troubling times in their lives. . . Thanks to the dedication and hard work of people like you so much progress is being made in [the fight] against cancer.”

In an ideal transition from ACCC Capitol Hill Day to CANCERSCAPE Annual Meeting sessions focused on policy and key drivers of change, Representative Nolan told attendees coming to Washington is critical, “I know it’s not easy, but it is so important because as a practical matter lending your voices, your knowledge, your perspective is unbelievably important.”

He spoke movingly about the impact of cancer in his own family. Congressman Nolan lost his father to cancer, and an aunt—who was an inspiration for his political career—also died from cancer at age 54.

Last January, he announced that his youngest daughter had been diagnosed with stage 4 non-smoking lung cancer. She is “a high spirited, very determined, and very, very health conscious young woman,” Nolan said. “Thanks to people’s prayers and advances in medical science she’s doing better. She is still with us fighting the good fight.”

His daughter’s struggle inspired Nolan to establish the Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus, along with co-founders Lois Capps (CA-D) and Frank LoBiondo (NJ-R).

Because nearly everyone has someone in their lives who has been touched by cancer, Congressman Nolan is optimistic that “we can find nonpartisan almost unanimous agreement to find better funding for the research needed to end this terrible scourge.”

Advocacy efforts such as ACCC Capitol Hill Day are critical he said. It’s important to tell your story because “no one can articulate need, challenges, potential to ultimately cure cancer [better] than the people in this room today.”

___________________________

Stay tuned for Annual Meeting key takeaways.

Oral Parity: When Modern Medicine Outpaces Policy

By Leah Ralph, Director of Health Policy, ACCC

PillsACCC has been a longtime champion of oral parity, the legislative effort to equalize patient cost sharing for intravenous (IV) and oral chemotherapy drugs.

Oral oncolytics can offer a better quality of life for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, including less travel time, fewer work absences, often fewer side effects, and the convenience and comfort of at-home administration. For some cancer patients, an oral anti-cancer medication is the only option for treatment. Yet insurance coverage has not kept pace with medical innovation. Outdated insurance benefit designs continue to cover oral medications under the pharmacy benefit, which often means high, burdensome out-of-pocket costs for patients. (Traditional IV chemotherapy is covered under a plan’s medical benefit, resulting in minimal co-pays or no cost for patients.) This coverage disparity creates financial burdens for patients prescribed an oral anti-cancer medicine, leaving them less likely to adhere to treatment and often unable to fill their prescription. The number one reason a patient does not take his or her medication appropriately is cost. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice and the American Journal of Managed Care, 10 percent of cancer patients failed to fill their initial prescriptions for oral anticancer medications due to high out-of-pocket costs.

Progress at the State Level

We’ve come a long way in terms of state law. To date, 40 states plus the District of Columbia have passed oral parity legislation. These laws are not a mandate to cover oral chemotherapy, but rather require that if an insurance plan covers chemotherapy treatment, a patient’s out-of-pocket costs must be the same, regardless of how the therapy is administered. As a member of the State Patients Equal Access Coalition (SPEAC), ACCC has partnered with several state oncology societies—including Virginia, West Virginia, and Arizona in recent years—to pass oral parity laws, and this year we’re focusing our efforts on Tennessee and South Carolina. (If you are a provider in either of these states, and you’d like to be an advocate, email ACCC Director of Health Policy, Leah Ralph. ACCC participated in this new SPEAC video that helps to tell the oral parity story from the patient’s perspective.

Why Federal Legislation is Necessary

And even though a majority of states have now passed state-level oral parity legislation, federal legislation is still needed. A federal law would ensure that new cost-sharing restrictions are implemented consistently across the country, and that plans that fall outside state regulation, such as those covered under the federal ERISA law (usually large, multi-state health plans), must comply with the same equitable coverage requirements. In September, an ACCC member spoke at a Congressional briefing on the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act of 2015 (S.1566/H.R.2739), helping gain critical momentum to move the bill forward.

In a few weeks, at ACCC 2016 Capitol Hill Day on March 2, ACCC members will be walking the halls of Congress to talk with legislators about the importance of this bill to cancer patients and the providers who care for them.

ACCC encourages members to join our efforts, and continue to monitor opportunities to weigh in with your state and federal legislators. For more on this issue, look for an upcoming article to be published in the March/April Oncology Issues, “Exploring the Issue of Cancer Drug Parity.”

 

 

ACCC Advocacy Update

By Leah Ralph, Director, Health Policy, ACCC

U.S. Capitol Congress closed out 2015 with a bang, passing a number of large, end-of-year spending bills to keep the government funded through 2016 and several provisions that will impact ACCC members.

The omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2029) boosted NIH funding by 6.6 percent to $32.1 billion, the largest increase NIH has seen in 12 years. A separate package of Medicare provisions, the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (S. 2425) passed just before Congress adjourned for the year. This legislation created a blanket hardship exemption for meaningful use penalties in 2015, making it easier for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to review and process hardship exemption requests. (To apply for an exemption, physicians must apply by March 15, 2016, and hospitals by April 1, 2016.)

The Medicare bill also froze payment rates to freestanding radiation therapy centers at 2016 levels for two years, CY2017 and CY2018. It is important to note that the Medicare bill ultimately did not include a provision that would have exempted “under construction” off-campus outpatient facilities from an earlier law (the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015) that reduced Medicare payments to newly built or acquired hospital outpatient departments.

Before year-end President Obama signed both H.R. 2029 and S. 2425 into law.

As attention shifts toward elections in 2016, with divergent views on the future course of the nation’s healthcare policies, we are sure to see even more movement on policies that will impact the provision of quality cancer care. Make your New Year’s resolution today to join us for ACCC Capitol Hill Day March 2, 2016. Learn more and register here.