Thoughts From COA

COA Applauds Inclusion of Medicare Payment Site Neutrality in Budget Deal

Created on: Thursday, October 29, 2015

COA applauds Congress for including a fix to the disparity in Medicare payments to hospital outpatient departments and physician offices in their bipartisan budget deal. The site-neutral payment fix will result in lower costs for seniors, especially with cancer, the Medicare program, and taxpayers. Starting in 2017, Medicare will pay identical rates for critical cancer care services, such as the administration of chemotherapy, whether provided in physician-directed community cancer clinics or hospital outpatient departments.

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New Study Reveals 340B Program Significantly Larger Than Previously Understood

Created on: Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The study finds that hospitals participating in the 340B program accounted for 58 percent of all Medicare Part B hospital outpatient drug reimbursements in 2013. For just oncology drugs, 340B hospitals accounted for over 60 percent of reimbursements. Both metrics saw double-digit growth during the study period of 2010-2013, increasing from 43 and 47 percent respectively. This growth is poised to continue, as more hospitals become 340B eligible. Additionally, the study shows that 340B hospitals are costing Medicare and beneficiaries over 50 percent more for cancer care.

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CMS Releases 2016 Proposed Medicare Physician Schedule; Proposes Paying for End-of-Life Discussions

Created on: Thursday, July 09, 2015

The proposed rule for how CMS/Medicare will pay physicians in 2016 was released with an underlying .5% fee increase for all physicians. Medical oncology and imaging escaped with no fee cuts; however, radiation will be cut by 3% and free-standing radiation centers will be cut by 9%. Most notably, CMS proposes to pay physicians to have end-of-life discussions with their patients. Other notable aspects of the proposed rule include implementation of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System mandated by the SGR legislation passed by Congress and requirements on submitting appropriate use criteria for advanced imaging.

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New Government Report Finds 340B Hospitals Increase the Cost of Cancer Care

Created on: Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report stating that action is needed to reduce the financial incentives that 340B hospitals have to use more drugs and more expensive drugs. According to the report, "GAO found that in both 2008 and 2012, per beneficiary Medicare Part B drug spending, including oncology drug spending, was substantially higher at 340B DSH hospitals than at non-340B hospitals. This indicates that, on average, beneficiaries at 340B DSH hospitals were either prescribed more drugs or more expensive drugs than beneficiaries at the other hospitals in GAO’s analysis."

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60 Minutes Reruns Skewed, Inaccurate Broadcast on Cancer Drugs

Created on: Thursday, June 25, 2015

60 Minutes rebroadcast its story, The High Cost of Cancer Drugs, on June 21, 2015. The story originally aired in October 2014. The response of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) to this highly skewed, inaccurate segment remains the same. The story was skewed and inaccurate. Although representatives from COA appeared on camera, talked with 60 Minutes staff, and provided written information about community cancer care, 60 Minutes completely ignored our input in Lesley Stahl’s originally story, The High Cost of Cancer Drugs, that 60 Minutes rebroadcast.

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Top Cancer Centers Play Major Part in Escalating Cancer Treatment Costs

Created on: Thursday, June 04, 2015

A major topic hitting the newswires post ASCO/Chicago 2015 is the accelerating cost of cancer treatment. Although pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have to find solutions to escalating drug prices, large hospital systems, including the 11 major dedicated cancer centers, are also part of the problem. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report documenting that these centers, including Memorial Sloan Kettering and MD Anderson, on average charged Medicare 42% more for inpatient cancer care and 37% more for outpatient care when compared with...

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Community Oncology Practices Accredited as Oncology Medical Homes

Created on: Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A significant milestone was realized as a new accreditation program for community oncology practices and the Oncology Medical Home was piloted and produced initial results. The pilot accreditation program by the Commission on Cancer is the culmination of work by the COA multi-stakeholder OMH Steering Committee and the COA OMH Implementation Task Force to provide community oncology practices with the tools and resources to become OMHs. The Commission on Cancer bestowed full and contingent accreditation on the following community oncology practices that were required...

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Oncology Payment Reform Bill, Major White Paper on Community Oncology, and Record-Breaking Conference

Created on: Thursday, April 30, 2015

The 2015 Community Oncology Conference was a great success based on feedback, as well as record-breaking attendance and participation. However, before the Conference started on 4/24, BRG released a COA-sponsored white paper on the state of community oncology and Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Steve Israel (D-NY) released a landmark, bipartisan bill on oncology payment reform. Additionally, the COA Board met the day before the Conference to discuss legislative issues impacting community oncology, now that the SGR has been fixed, as well as oncology payment reform and many other critical issues to community oncology practices.

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What's an SGR?

Created on: Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Senate finally answered the bell and completed the hard work done by the House. The flawed SGR-based Medicare reimbursement system for physicians' services is now history. After some political theater, the Senate passed the House "SGR fix" bill (H.R. 2) and the President signed it into law. In addition to eliminating the SGR from our language for at least 10 years, the bill ushers in a new era of payment reform to medicine. It will be very important for community oncology practices to move forward with...

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COA Interview on the PBS Series, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies

Created on: Wednesday, March 25, 2015

COA Executive Director Ted Okon sat down to talk with Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Joining Ted and Dr. Mukherjee in the discussion was award-winning producer/director Barak Goodman, who is bringing a series on cancer to PBS. This special, following notable Ken Burns documentaries on baseball, the Civil War, Prohibition, and others, will air on PBS on March 30-31 and April 1, 2015. You can watch the interview...

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