Tag Archives: access to cancer care

Speak Up Now!

by Leah Ralph, Director of Health Policy, ACCC

U.S. CapitolFor this year’s ACCC Capitol Hill Day, Wednesday, March 29, ACCC advocates will descend on Washington, D.C., with newfound motivation. As Congress grapples with the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and debates the merits of protecting patients with pre-existing conditions vs. high-risk pools, refundable tax credits vs. subsidies, requirements for essential health benefits vs. more flexibility in benefit standards, oncology care providers see insurance coverage—and their patients’ access to cancer care—at stake.

Yes, It’s Complicated
The political messaging—not to mention policy minutiae—is difficult to sort through, even for the wonkiest of policy wonks in Washington. The ACA has been plagued with insurer drop outs and significant premium increases for the unsubsidized individual market, but the law has also provided critical patient protections, put an end to discriminatory practices by insurers, and covered 20 million new lives through Medicaid expansion and the health insurance exchanges. Having made ACA repeal their rallying cry for years, Republicans are now trying to find a path forward to make changes to the law. But maintaining those critical (and politically popular) patient protections, preserving essential benefits, and covering more people while also reducing costs for both the system and the patients is far from an easy task.

Preserve Patient Protections
More than ever before, this year on Capitol Hill Day, ACCC members have a critical story to tell about the unique needs of cancer patients and the costs of their treatment. Cancer, in many ways, demonstrates the precise need—and role—for insurance. Cancer diagnoses are inherently unpredictable. Cancer patients can’t plan when they are going to be sick or what kind of insurance they will need to cover their costs. In addition to the personal, emotional, and physical toll a cancer diagnosis takes on individuals and their families, cancer patients need good insurance to protect against the risk of catastrophic treatment costs.

The ACA created critical protections for consumers, including eliminating the ability of insurance companies to discriminate based on a pre-existing condition, like cancer, or to impose lifetime or annual dollar limits on policies. And by providing subsidies to those up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level to purchase insurance, the ACA made progress in closing the disparities gap in accessing cancer care.

Protect Patient Access to Care
In record numbers, ACCC members will set out on March 29 to educate Congress on what proposed changes to the ACA would mean for cancer patients and survivors and their ability to access high quality cancer care in the communities where they live and work. In the context of any ACA repeal and/or replace plan, ACCC members will ask legislators to:

  • Protect access to comprehensive, affordable insurance coverage. This is particularly critical for cancer patients facing high-cost treatments that often turn into chronic, long-term conditions.
  • Preserve critical patient protections, such as the ban on discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, no annual or lifetime limits, guaranteed issue, and allowing dependents to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26.
  • Preserve essential health benefits that require insurers to cover preventive services, like cancer screenings, at minimal or no cost-sharing.
  • Maintain meaningful access to clinical trials.
  • Strengthen patient access to adequate provider networks that include cancer specialists and the full range of services required to provide quality cancer care.
  • Meaningfully engage cancer patient and provider groups in any real effort to repeal and/or replace the ACA.

Beyond coverage and access, ACCC members will also reiterate their commitment to value-based care and any efforts to improve quality, affordability, and access in cancer care. ACCC has long been committed to working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to achieve true high-value, cost-effective cancer care. ACCC members support the mission and goals of the ACA-created Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), which has been the subject of recent scrutiny. More than half of the CMMI Oncology Care Model (OCM) participating practices are ACCC members. These forward-thinking practices are dedicating significant time and resources to making this pilot program work.

However, in the wake of last year’s CMMI ill-conceived proposed Part B Drug Payment Model, ACCC members will also strongly encourage Congress to place additional guardrails on CMMI’s authority, including limiting its scope to targeted, voluntary (rather than mandatory) demonstration programs.

ACCC members have a lot to communicate to busy Congressional representatives and staffers this year. But the stories we will share, from the communities in which ACCC members are working on the frontlines of cancer care, will bring home the impact of policy decisions in the clearest, most powerful terms. Now is a critical time to speak up and be heard—for our patients today and those who will become our patients tomorrow. Join us for ACCC Capitol Hill Day. Your story can make a difference.

The ACCC 43rd Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, March 29-31, will provide a 360-degree look at the healthcare landscape from the Democrat and Republican perspectives with insights on what to expect for reimbursement, alternative payment models, drug pricing, quality reporting, and more. Learn more.

National Oncology Conference—Keep the Conversation Going

dr. peter bach

Featured speaker Peter Bach, MD, MAPP, delivers the opening presentation of the ACCC National Oncology Conference.

By Amanda Patton, ACCC, Communications

From the opening presentation by featured speaker Peter Bach, MD, MAPP, to the final sessions focused on cancer survivors and the workplace and providing survivorship services on a shoestring budget—last week’s ACCC National Oncology Conference covered challenges large and small facing cancer programs and practices across the country.

Macro challenges—occurring at the health system and population health level—are well known to the oncology community. Among these are the high cost of cancer drugs and new therapies, the transformative shift in payment from volume to value, workforce shortages, reimbursement constraints, and the many issues tied to ever-increasing demands for data collection and reporting.

Micro challenges—occurring at the service line and individual provider and patient level—range from adapting delivery infrastructures to meet the evolving treatment landscape, to determining  metrics to track and how to best to communicate these to leadership, to ensuring patient access to supportive care services that remain unreimbursed, to fostering a holistic, patient-centric culture of care.

Common themes across conference sessions and conversations: Collaboration, integration, evidence-based medicine, and value.  Five key takeaways from the conference:

Cancer programs and providers must collaborate outside the box and across the care continuum.
Attendees heard first-hand from programs that are already making this work—from implementing virtual tumor boards, to engaging primary care physicians in survivorship care, to collaborating across disciplines to provide cancer prehabilitation services, and more.

There are formal & informal operational pathways to create integrated delivery networks with stakeholders for quality patient care.
Panelists in the Advancing Quality Care session agreed: to achieve a truly integrated delivery network transparency and trust between all partners is needed.

Oncology programs are increasingly turning to dynamic dashboards to demonstrate value to payers and patients.
Solutions and tools may exist outside the oncology service line. Reach out to the data analytics team or business intelligence team within your organization. Take advantage of or adapt existing resources and tools.

From personalized medicine to immuno-oncology, cancer treatment is undergoing a transformative shift.
For both providers and the patients they serve, the value proposition presented by genomic medicine is that it allows clinicians to make better therapeutic decisions.

Patients are key stakeholders in healthcare integration efforts.
“Successful integration will depend on aligned patient-centered care, patient-focused care, and patient engagement,” said ACCC President Elect Jennie Crews, MD, in the panel discussion on Advancing Quality Care.  Panelists touched on the findings included in a new ACCC white paper released at the National Oncology Conference that outlines forward-looking essential steps to ensure quality patient care in the increasingly integrated healthcare environment.

ACCC encourages members to keep the conversation going by sharing your key conference takeaways in our members-only online community ACCCExchange.

Save the date and join us in Washington, D.C., March 2-4 for the ACCC Annual Meeting: CancerScape 2016.

National Oncology Conference: Framing Issues & Finding Answers

ACCC President Steven D'Amato, BSPharm, BCOP, welcomes attendees to National Oncology Conference

ACCC President Steven D’Amato, BSPharm, BCOP, welcomes attendees to National Oncology Conference

by Amanda Patton, ACCC, Communications

Featured speaker Peter Bach, MD, MAPP, addressed a packed room in the opening session of the ACCC National Oncology Conference on Oct. 22, in Portland, Oregon.  Dr. Bach is Director, Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Dr. Bach’s remarks centered on four prime issues challenging oncology today: the cost of cancer drugs, the need for oncology to do a better job on comparative outcomes research, the 340B drug pricing program, and the importance of incorporating end-of-life care into cancer program services.

Finding a rational way to address drug costs matters on both the macro level [in terms of the impact of healthcare costs nationally] and on the micro level at point of care when “drugs are being left at the pharmacy counter because patients can’t afford the copay,” he said.


Conference sessions throughout the day focused on challenges and innovative solutions that can have powerful micro- and macro-level impacts on cancer programs and providers, and the patients they serve: From “how to” sessions on benchmarking salaries, applying lean principles for staffing, establishing a virtual tumor board, distress screening, and preparing for alternative payment models, and more, to a big picture session on Advancing Quality—from Oncology Medical Homes to Integrated Delivery.  One cross-cutting takeaway message: work across disciplines and siloes—think about how to collaborate outside the box and across the care continuum.

Stay tuned for more conference highlights. Follow conference on Twitter at #ACCCNOC.