Tag Archives: sequester

Ringing in the New Year

US Capitolby Leah Ralph, Manager, Provider Economics and Public Policy, ACCC

The last few months have brought big changes to Washington, D.C. We will ring in the New Year with both chambers of Congress under GOP control, which means the parties are reorganizing and, importantly, the legislative agenda is shifting. While it’s still anyone’s guess whether new leadership will mean less political infighting in 2015, issues like trade, energy, and tax reform are early contenders for potential areas of compromise next year.

The ACA (Affordable Care Act) will also make the top of the political agenda: starting in January, you can count on Republicans to look for every opportunity to take the legs out from under President Obama’s signature achievement. Although full repeal is unlikely, as it would face an all-but-guaranteed presidential veto, expect the new majority to focus their efforts on introducing a series of stand-alone bills targeting the most unpopular provisions of the law.

Predicting the fate of non-ACA healthcare legislation is a tougher call. On the one hand, healthcare fatigue still looms large among legislators, making issues like a long-term fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), oral parity, and sequestration more of an uphill climb. On the other hand, new leadership, a renewed vow to work across the aisle, and public dissatisfaction with the status quo are bringing new energy to Congress.

Will 2015 Bring a Permanent SGR Fix?

In 2014 we saw what was arguably the best opportunity in years to finally fix the fundamentally flawed SGR formula. Congress came to agreement on a bipartisan bill that had a relatively low price tag, but in the end could not reach consensus on how to pay for the fix. As a result, the bill never came to a vote and will need to be reintroduced in the new Congress. Still the fact that Congress achieved consensus on policy is a promising sign for 2015. We have now weathered seventeen (17!) “doc fix” patches that, if added together, cost far more than the comprehensive approach lawmakers are considering today. This year’s ACCC Capitol Hill Day is scheduled for March 16, so we will be visiting with our legislators just weeks before the current “doc fix” expires on March 31.

Will We See Federal Oral Parity Legislation?

Passing a national oral parity law continues to be a top priority for ACCC membership. On the state level, oral parity efforts are gaining momentum. To date, 34 states and D.C. have enacted oral parity laws, and several other states are ramping up their grassroots efforts for 2015. Given that an estimated 25 to 35 percent of all oncology therapies in the pipeline will available only in pill form, the need for comprehensive, federal oral parity legislation is increasingly critical to patient access. While state-level legislation remains important, lawmakers need to understand that federal legislation would ensure consistency in oral parity laws across the country and would include plans that fall outside the purview of state regulation.

Will We See Any Relief from the Sequester?

Last year, legislation to exempt cancer drugs from the Medicare sequester gained more than 100 cosponsors. ACCC will be advocating for this legislation to be reintroduced in 2015.

As you can see, 2015 is the year to make your voice heard! Join us for Capitol Hill Day on March 16, and stay for the ACCC 41st Annual Meeting, CANCERSCAPE, which will follow March 17–18 in Crystal City, Va. Read our agenda and register today!

If you have additional questions, or would like to get involved with ACCC advocacy, please contact me at lralph@accc-cancer.org.



ACCC Hill Day Primer—Issue #4: Eliminate the Prompt Pay Discount

By Sydney Abbott, JD, Manager, Provider Economics & Public Policy, ACCC

U.S. Capitol ACCC’s Capitol Hill Day on March 31 is just around the corner. ACCCBuzz is featuring a primer series on the key issues ACCC members will be talking about on Capitol Hill. In this final of four installments, we’ll look at the need to pass legislation to fix the prompt pay discount.

The issue: Many drug manufacturers offer a 2% incentive for distributors who pay promptly. However, this 2% discount is not generally passed on to providers. Medicare includes this discount in its calculation of average sales price (ASP), a key component in the Medicare reimbursement formula.  Although Congress intends for Medicare Part B to reimburse providers at ASP +6%, the prompt pay discount artificially reduces payments to ASP+ 4%. When you take into account the additional reduction on all drugs and services billed to Medicare due to the sequester, providers are actually seeing reimbursement closer to ASP +2.3%. That’s a long way from the congressionally intended ASP+6%.

Legislation introduced by Congressman Ed Whitfield (HR 800) would change how ASP is calculated by eliminating the prompt pay discount from the Medicare Part B reimbursement formula. Those of you coming to Washington, D.C., on March 31st for ACCC’s Hill Day will have a chance to explain why this legislation matters in person.

ACCC members who cannot make the trip to D.C. next week can still express support for the elimination of the prompt pay discount and ask Congress to pass HR 800. Visit ACCC’s Legislation Action Center to find out how.

Will you be a cancer care advocate? Learn more about the issues, sign up for Hill Day, and make your voice heard.

ACCC Hill Day Primer—Issue #2: Exempt Cancer Drugs From Medicare Sequester

by Sydney Abbott, JD, Manager, Provider Economics & Public Policy, ACCC

U.S. Capitol Just 12 days remain until ACCC’s Capitol Hill Day on March 31. ACCCBuzz is featuring a primer series on the key issues ACCC members will be talking about when they visit their elected officials. In this second of four installments, we’ll look at the sequester and legislation to exempt cancer drugs from the cuts.

As you already know, the sequester was put into effect as a result of failed debt negotiations in Congress in 2011. Initially, the sequester was designed to impact all domestic spending equally for 10 years. However, through the budget deal at the end of 2013, pre-sequester funding was restored to some federal agencies, while being extended for other programs. Medicare was one of those unfortunate programs. Instead of ending in 2021, the 2% across-the-board sequester on Medicare has been extended through 2023.

Considering this extension, ACCC has shifted focus from eliminating the sequester altogether to exempting cancer drugs specifically. There is currently a bill in the House that would leave the sequester intact for all items billed to Medicare except for cancer drugs. Because of the high fixed costs of cancer drugs, the sequester disproportionately impacts oncology. However, HR 1416, with 110 bipartisan cosponsors, would help level the playing field between oncology and other specialties.

ACCC members will ask Congress to pass HR 1416 during the annual Hill Day on March 31. Learn more about the issues and sign up for Hill Day now!