On March 28, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it is expanding the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program for all Medicare providers throughout the country during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The payments can be requested by hospitals, doctors, durable medical equipment suppliers, and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers and suppliers.
To qualify for accelerated or advance payments, the provider or supplier must:
Medicare will start accepting and processing the Accelerated/Advance Payment Requests immediately. CMS anticipates that the payments will be issued within seven days of the provider’s request. Access CMS fact sheet for more information.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be covering COVID-19 tests, and for those original Medicare there is generally no copay (deductible applies). CMS is also permitting Medicare Advantage plans to waive cost-sharing for these tests.
CMS has posted a fact sheet to the agency's website to aid Medicare providers with information relating to the pricing of both the CDC and non-CDC COVID-19 tests. Read the fact sheet.
Visit the CMS "Current Emergencies" webpage for updates on CMS' response to this COVID-19.
The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer finds that from 2001 to 2017, deaths from cancer (all sites combined) continued to decline. The report was released on March 12 and is published in the journal, Cancer.
The annual report, which represents the collaborative efforts of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries NAACCR), found decreases in the overall cancer death rates in all major racial and ethnic groups and among men, women, adolescents, young adults, and children. From 2012 to 2016 incidence of new cancers (for all cancers combined) held steady for men and increased slightly for women.
Over a four-year period (2013 to 2017), the report found:
Cancer death rates for men declined in 11 of the 19 most prevalent cancers, remained stable in four cancers (including prostate), and increased in four cancers (oral cavity and pharynx; soft tissue including heart, brain, and other nervous system; and pancreas).
Cancer death rates for women decreased in 14 of the 20 most common cancers, including (lung and bronchus, breast, and colorectal), but increased for cancers of the uterus; liver; brain and other nervous system; soft tissue including heart; and pancreas. Rates for cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx remained stable.
A companion report assesses progress on the federal government’s Healthy People 2020 objectives for four leading cancers: lung, prostate, breast cancer in women, and colorectal cancer. The targets for reducing death rates were met for all cancers combined as well as for lung, prostate, female breast, and colorectal cancers overall. However, these decreases were not consistent across all sociodemographic groups. Despite some progress over the past decade, the report points to the continued need to address disparities in cancer screening and in certain risk behaviors.
In addition, the report finds that Healthy People 2020 targets were not met for decreasing adult cigarette smoking; increasing success in smoking cessation; lowering excessive alcohol use; or reducing obesity—behaviors that have been associated with cancer risk.
In a memorandum issued on March 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services outlines the flexibilities Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D plans have to waive certain requirements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These flexibilities include:
The rule finalizes new policies aimed at giving patients access to their health information, using CMS's authority to regulate Medicare Advantage (MA), Medicaid, CHIP, and Qualified Health Plan (QHP) issuers on the Federally-facilitated Exchanges (FFEs). Currently these data are held by health insurers, hospitals, and vendors of electronic health records (EHRs).
New policies include:
On March, 2, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Sarclisa® (isatuximab-irfc) in combination with pomalidomide and dexamethasone (pom-dex) for the treatment of adults with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM) who have received at least two prior therapies including lenalidomide and a proteasome inhibitor. Sarclisa is expected to be available to patients in the U.S. shortly.
Sarclisa is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the CD38 receptor on multiple myeloma cells.
Sarclisa has Orphan Drug Designation status from the FDA.
Read corporate press release.
The College of American Pathologists (CAP), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Association for Molecular Pathology, and Fight Colorectal Cancer are collaborating to develop clinical guidelines for testing DNA mismatch repair (MMR) and microsatellite instability (MSI) status in patients with a range of cancers.
The groups have opened the public comment period for the guideline “MMR and MSI Testing in Patients Being Considered for Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy.” Find details, including background information, recommended resources to review before providing comments, and overarching questions for consideration here.
All stakeholders—including pathologists who refer and perform molecular testing, oncologists, laboratory personnel, and allied health professionals—are encouraged to provide feedback on the draft recommendations to ensure the final recommendations are clinically practical. The comment period runs from February 19 to March 13, 2020.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Feb. 21, 2020, issued its Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs.
The report outlines examples of electronic health record (EHR) related burden, as well as strategies and recommendations that HHS and other stakeholders can use to help clinicians focus their attention on patients rather administrative tasks when using health information technology (health IT).
The 21st Century Cures Act required development of the report, which was led by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. An initial draft was issued in November 2018.
In developing the report, ONC and CMS looked at four key areas and offered strategies to address each area:
The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) joined in a wide coalition letter to congressional leadership urging that Congress include the bipartisan Clinical Treatment Act (H.R. 913) in the Healthcare Extenders Package that is likely to pass this spring.
Passage of the Clinical Treatment Act would guarantee that routine care costs of clinical trial participation would be covered for Medicaid beneficiaries with a life-threatening condition. Currently, Medicaid is not federally required to cover these clinical trial associated costs.
Because these costs only encompass non-experimental costs of treating patients (e.g., doctor's visits and lab work) on clinical trials, the Clinical Treatment Act would not significantly affect overall cost to Medicaid programs.
Read coalition letter.