Thoughts From COA

COA Issues Statement on Release of Medicare Data

Created on: Thursday, April 10, 2014

COA strongly disagrees with the release of physician-specific Medicare reimbursement claims data and the manner in which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the data. The data is incomplete, biased, without context, and an unrepresentative sample of Medicare reimbursement to oncologists. Further, CMS did not allow physicians an opportunity to confirm the accuracy of individual data and did not conduct any studies to assess how the data will potentially influence consumers, especially senior beneficiaries, about their medical care decision-making.

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President Signs SGR Patch Bill

Created on: Friday, March 28, 2014

Even though both parties and chambers of Congress have agreed on the policy behind fixing the broken SGR-based Medicare payment system, and actually implementing payment reform, the Congress punted once again. For the 17th time, Congress is avoiding its responsibility and kicking the Medicare can down the road. In a voice vote, so there is no voting record, the House approved a 12-month patch to the SGR. The Senate then voted on the patch bill, passed it, and the President has signed it into law.

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COA and US Oncology Send Letter to Congress to Fix SGR and Stop Cancer Care Crisis

Created on: Friday, March 21, 2014

COA and The US Oncology Network sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass a real fix to the SGR, along with payment reform, while stopping the cancer care crisis. In the letter, signed by COA President Mark Thompson, MD and Barry Brooks, MD, Chairman of the Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee of The US Oncology Network, the organizations stated that the crisis is documented by a consolidating cancer care landscape that is creating patient access problems, while driving up costs for Medicare and seniors, and by drug shortages plaguing the nation.

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Congress Reaches SGR Deal on Policy; Last Hurdle is Paying for It

Created on: Thursday, February 06, 2014

Congress has reached a deal on the policy of repealing the broken Medicare SGR-based payment system, which will be replaced by comprehensive payment reform. This is a bi-partisan agreement between the House and the Senate. The trick now is for all to agree on how to pay for the bill, which will cost from $125-150 billion over 10 years. Reviewing the section-by-section analysis of the bill, it is very favorable to oncology, especially those practices already working on the Oncology Medical Home. COA will have a more thorough analysis as the bill is finalized.

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SGR Update: Touchdown or Punt?

Created on: Thursday, January 30, 2014

As you read this, congressional staff from the Senate Finance, Ways & Means, and Energy & Commerce committees are trying to merge the 3 SGR/payment reform bills. COA has worked with the committees over the past year to incorporate our Oncology Medical Home (OMH) payment model into the bills. Most recently, we issued a joint statement on the principles of payment reform with ASCO. We believe that the resultant SGR/payment reform bill will incorporate concepts from our OMH model. Unfortunately, we place the odds at below 50% that Congress will pass the SGR fix bill before the March 31, 2014 deadline, the time when...

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COA and ASCO Issue Joint Statement on Oncology Payment Reform

Created on: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Today, COA and ASCO are issuing a joint statement on payment reform in cancer care. The statement results from collaboration between the two organizations, in concert with AmerisourceBergen/ION and McKesson/US Oncology, to arrive at principles to guide the evolution of health care payment systems that support high-quality, high-value cancer care. The goal is to improve the lives of individuals with cancer, in part by developing and supporting payment systems based on evidence-based medicine and measures of quality and value in cancer care.

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COA Blasts CMS on New Cuts to Cancer Care

Created on: Thursday, December 12, 2013

CMS issued a final rule that stopped payment cuts to radiation oncology and pulled back from the severest cuts to imaging. However, CMS increased cuts to chemotherapy administration and related codes. For example, payment for the first hour of chemotherapy administration will be cut 7.4%, and then an additional 2% by the Medicare sequester. Subsequent hours of administration will be cut 9.2%, then another 2%. To make matters worse, the budget deal just struck between Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) includes

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COA Submits Comments to Congress on SGR Payment Reform

Created on: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In response to the “discussion draft” issued by the Senate Finance and Ways & Means Committees on Medicare payment reform and repeal of the sustainable growth rate (SGR), COA summited comments as requested by the committees. COA strongly believes that the SGR needs to be repealed immediately, because the deeply flawed formula has produced payment cuts that are a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the heads of community oncologists. In addition to the SGR cuts of 24-30% threatening community oncology practices each year, practices are

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Congressional Committees Release Joint Draft on Medicare Payment Reform

Created on: Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Senate Finance and Ways & Means Committees released a joint, bipartisan “discussion draft” of legislation intended to fix the current broken SGR-based Medicare payment system. The plan is to repeal the SGR and create stable physician payments for a period of 10 years at a constant rate. After that period, there would be 1-2% annual increases based on whether physicians participate in alternative payment models or maintain fee-for-service reimbursement. Significantly

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Congressmen Tonko and Nunes, Supported by 112 Representatives, Ask CMS to Not Make New Cancer Care Cuts

Created on: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In response to even more cuts to cancer care by Medicare, 114 Representatives sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to "urge" her to not cut payments for critical cancer care services in 2014. These new proposed payment cuts come in addition to CMS' decision to apply the sequester cut to the underlying cost of cancer drugs. These decisions are forcing more cancer care into the hospital setting, in the process causing access problems and increasing costs to senior cancer patients and the Medicare program.

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