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ACCC 2021 Virtual Hill Day



As Congress continues to deliberate reforms to our healthcare system and decide how to move forward during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to speaking with representatives on Capitol Hill and share the real-world impact that federal health policy has on cancer patients and care delivery in your community.

Since it wasn't logistically possible to organize our in-person Capitol Hill Day this year, ACCC was able to offer it's members* a new way to experience advocacy trainings, legislative briefings, and Congressional meetings from the comfort of their home or office.

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 43 of our members (all from different backgrounds, including physicians, pharmacists, administrators, financial advocates, nurses, and more) attended over 70 virtual meetings in 24 states. 

Our members were be able to advocate for federal policies that improve access to quality cancer care. And discussed the challenges that they—and their patients—face every day. They were able to help ensure that future legislation reflects the reality of cancer care delivery.

ACCC's legislative priorities focused on the Telehealth Modernization Act and the Safe Step Act of 2021, and other opportunities to advocate for bills that closely impact the cancer care landscape.

We're grateful to have been able to give our members this opportunity to share their expertise and put a human face to decisions regarding federal healthcare policies.



ACCC 2021 Virtual Hill Day Legislative Asks

Early last year, many patients obtained access to telehealth services for the first time, mostly due to temporary policy changes put in place by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These new policies enabled immune-compromised patients, many with cancer, to reduce the number of times they had to leave their homes to obtain treatment and ongoing care, making them less vulnerable to COVID-19. Before the pandemic, telehealth services were largely non-reimbursable, restricted to the use of patients in remote and rural areas who had existing relationships with a medical provider. New policies enacted in response to the pandemic have enabled providers to offer telehealth services to patients living outside of designated rural areas and across state lines from their providers. 

The Telehealth Modernization Act (S.368/H.R. 1332) bipartisan legislation addresses concerns about the continuity of telehealth after the pandemic resolves. Proposed legislation focus on extending flexibilities for telehealth that were authorized during the public health emergency such as “permanently remov[ing] Medicare’s geographic and originating site restrictions, which require a patient to live in a rural area and be physically in a doctor’s office or clinic to use telehealth services.” 

The bill was introduced by Representatives Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-De) in the House and by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate.  

THE SAFE STEP ACT (H.R.2163/S.464)  

Step therapy is a managed care approach that some insurers use to cut costs. Often referred to as “fail first”, step therapy requires that beneficiaries try lower-cost medications before insurers will allow or authorize more expensive treatments—despite recommendations from the patients’ healthcare providers. Cancer patients require complex treatment care plans that can change often as medical and scientific advancements are made and new therapies are developed. The use of step therapy for people with cancer is inappropriate, creating barriers to appropriate, necessary, and timely care.  

The Safe Step Act (H.R. 2163/S.464) would require ERISA governed health plans i.e. group health plans or health insurance coverage offered in connection with such a plan that provides coverage of a prescription drug pursuant to a medication step therapy protocol, “to implement a clear and transparent process for a participant or beneficiary (or the prescribing healthcare provider on behalf of the participant or beneficiary) to request an exception to such medication step therapy protocol.” 

The bill was introduced by Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Lucy McBath (D-GA), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) in the House and Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) in the Senate.  

*Participation in the ACCC Virtual Capitol Hill Day is exclusive to ACCC members as one valuable benefit of membership. If you are not a member and would like to join, please explore our membership options.