Thoughts From COA

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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COA Board Approves Launch of National Pharmacy Organization for Community Oncology Practices

Created on: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

COA has announced the formation of the Community Oncology Pharmacy Association (COPA). COPA is a non-profit, non-commercial organization, under the direction of the COA Board of Directors, dedicated to addressing a variety of pharmacy issues, all in the sole interest of patient care. COPA will establish standards, provide information, education, and resources, enhance information exchange, and help advocate for the patient-centric model of integrated cancer care, with a special focus on oral cancer drugs.

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CMS/CMMI Releases Oncology Payment Reform Model

Created on: Thursday, February 12, 2015

CMS/CMMI has released its model for oncology payment reform. The model is along the lines of the COA Oncology Medical Home model with a care management fee and then a performance-based fee with quality measures. We have some initial questions and concerns about details, including the actual launch of the program. However, COA appreciates the openness of CMMI to feedback that COA and others have been providing. We will have more details after our task force of oncologists and practice administrators analyze the CMMI model with the details provided by the innovation center.

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2015 Community Oncology Conference Open for Registration

Created on: Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We expect the 2015 Community Oncology Conference to be bigger than the 2014 version, which was a huge success. By popular demand, we are going back to Orlando. The highlight of the 2015 Conference will be sessions on oncology payment reform, picking up where the successful Payer Exchange Summit on Oncology Payment Reform left off from the fall of 2014. The 2015 Conference will have workshops dedicated to key aspects of oncology payment reform and you’ll learn more about private pay and Medicare programs, in the field and proposed.

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Top Ranking House Member McMorris Rogers Releases Draft Bill on Oncology Payment Reform

Created on: Thursday, December 11, 2014

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) has released a discussion draft of a bill on oncology payment reform she intends to introduce when the new Congress convenes in 2015. The legislation will establish a national oncology medical home demonstration project under the Medicare program to reform the payment system for cancer care in order to enhance the quality of care and to improve cost efficiency. The 5-year nationwide demonstration project will be open to oncology practices billing under Medicare Part B, including both independent and hospital-affiliated community cancer clinics, and is comprised of three phases.

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CMS Releases MD and Hospital Fee Schedules for 2015

Created on: Saturday, November 01, 2014

The final fee schedules for both physicians and hospitals for Medicare in 2015 have been released by CMS. Medical oncology and hematology will receive a 1% payment increase in 2015. Radiation therapy will receive no increased payment next year; however, CMS had proposed an 8% reimbursement decrease. Radiology will be cut by 1%; however, the proposal was to cut radiology services by 4%. COA sent CMS a comment letter that addressed the cuts to radiation and imaging, and worked with key congressional offices in signing letters and weighing in against the proposed cuts. You can access the final physician rule...

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60 Minutes Acknowledges COA Blasted It for Reporting Inaccuracies in Cancer Drug Costs Show

Created on: Monday, October 06, 2014

As we posted last week, COA was contacted by 60 Minutes earlier in the year about a segment on cancer drug pricing. Several of the COA leadership told the accurate story on camera, as well as provided 60 Minutes with data supporting the quality and cost efficiency of community oncology providers. Unfortunately, 60 Minutes ignored the facts in order to fit what seems to be a pre-determined conclusion within their story on cancer drug pricing. COA blasted 60 Minutes in a letter from President Bruce Gould, MD about the inaccuracies and the adverse impact false information can have on cancer patients. Reporter Lesley Stahl acknowledged the letter on air on 60 Minutes.

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COA Submits Comments to CMS on Proposed 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

Created on: Tuesday, September 02, 2014

COA President Dr. Bruce Gould submitted comments to CMS on the proposed fee schedule for physicians for 2015. In the letter, Dr. Gould states, "If you look at what is happening in community oncology with payment reform there is much hope going forward, as community oncology is collectively well ahead of academic and institutional-based oncology, as well as other areas of medicine, in implementing payment reform. However, the advances being made are threatened by the continued ratcheting down of Medicare reimbursement for cancer care by CMS, as well as by Congress’ inability...

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