What is the Community Oncology Alliance (COA)?
COA is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to community oncology. In addition to advocating on Capitol Hill and beyond for community oncology, COA is committed to helping community oncology practices navigate these difficult times. This includes advocacy and networking practices, as well as providing authoritative, timely information on a variety of topics critical to community oncology.
How is COA governed?
COA is a non-profit, 501(c)(6) organization governed by the Executive Committee who reports to a Board of Directors comprised of representatives from community oncology. The Executive Director oversees implementation of the COA strategic plan.
How is COA funded?
COA is funded by the membership contributions of community oncology practices. Additionally, COA has corporate members that are currently comprised of pharmaceutical and distribution companies. Corporate membership is intended to foster communications and education among those individuals and entities with an interest in protecting the quality, affordability, and accessibility of the community cancer care delivery system in the United States.
COA maintains a strict policy of independence from commercial influences, such as those related to specific companies, products, or services. The COA Board of Directors enforces this policy. Fundamentally, a mission of fostering and protecting the quality, affordability, and accessibility of cancer care for all Americans governs every COA policy and endeavor. Funds are used for education, projects, advocacy, staffing, and to maintain an office in Washington, DC.
What has COA done since its launch in 2003 on behalf of community cancer care?
COA has awakened the consciousness of community oncologists about the importance of reaching out and interacting with Members of Congress. Community practices all across the country are now forming relationships with their Members of Congress and have hosted Members in their practices to see cancer care through the eyes of a cancer patient.
COA was instrumental in fighting for significant reimbursement increases as part of the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA). Some involved in crafting the MMA were intent on reducing Medicare drug reimbursement to ASP + 2-3% and only increasing services reimbursement by $150 million. COA provided data and successfully fought to get this increased to ASP + 6% and over $550 million in services reimbursement.
COA also secured additional Medicare funding for services in 2005 in the form of a $300 million demonstration project and the 2006 demonstration project. Also, COA is currently working on permanent legislative solutions to key problems associated with Medicare drug and services reimbursement.
What are COA’s current activities?
Among other initiatives on behalf of community oncology, COA:
- Is developing the Patient-Centered Oncology Medical Home model to ensure that every cancer patient receives the highest quality treatment in an efficient environment that is centered on the individual.
- Is working to remedy a long-standing reimbursement imbalance for cancer drugs that is threatening the survival of community oncology practices. This is referred to as the “prompt pay” solution and legislation.
- Is investigating how Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which were created in the health care reform law, will actually function and help enhance the quality of cancer care, as opposed to simply functioning as a mechanism to cut costs.
- Has undertaken and published the most comprehensive study ever developed to identify and quantify all of the Components of Care required to deliver quality cancer care.
- Has launched major advocacy, public relations, and patient-centric initiatives. This is critical, as the Administration and Congress tackle comprehensive healthcare reform, including how Medicare pays physicians for services.
- Is developing a thorough review of the issues unique to oral oncolytics that influence prescribing decisions and the challenges that ultimately may lead to a discrepancy in access to oral versus intravenous (IV) oncolytics.
Additionally, COA supports:
- The COA Administrators’ Network (CAN), which was developed by community oncology practice administrators to facilitate communications and information exchange among practices.
- The COA Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN), which was developed to provide a forum for patients, caregivers, and survivors to network and become more active participants in understanding and advocating for cancer care.
These and other COA initiatives, aim to unify and strengthen community oncology, which will be essential in advancing the cause of community cancer care in 2016 and beyond.
What resources does COA have to fight for community oncology?
Over 100 individuals from the cancer care delivery team – including oncologists, pharmacists, oncology nurses and practice administrators, as well as survivors and caregivers – volunteer their time on a regular basis to govern COA and serve on committees that ensure COA is serving the interests of community oncology at large.
Additionally, COA retains full-time staff to manage COA and provide services to both community and corporate members, as well as to lobby Congress and the current Administration. Just as important, COA empowers community oncology practices nationwide to advocate on behalf of the patients for whom they care.
This grassroots approach empowers an ongoing lobbying campaign in Washington, DC. It also provides an avenue to educate community oncologists to advocate on behalf of themselves with private payers and to engage in beneficial communications with fellow community oncologists.