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Medicaid Work Requirements Could Reduce Vulnerable Patients’ Access to Cancer Care

ASCO Issues Recommendations to Preserve Patients’ Ability to Access High-Quality Cancer Care in New Position Statement


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In a recent position statement, ASCO warns that Medicaid work requirements may hinder patient access to essential cancer care and reduce the already limited time physicians are able to spend with their patients. ASCO also recommends that federal and state policymakers take specific steps to ensure that new Medicaid requirements will not harm patients with cancer.

Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO

Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO

ASCO’s position statement, “Medicaid Waivers & Their Impact on Cancer Care,” comes as several states have recently submitted waivers to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) asking the agency to approve changes to the Medicaid program in their state that would make eligibility, continued coverage, cost-sharing, and other program benefits dependent on a beneficiary’s work status. Some state waivers have requested the authority to cut coverage for beneficiaries based on not paying premiums, eligibility redeterminations, and work requirements. 

“ASCO calls on CMS to reject any state waivers that would hinder access to high-quality care for patients with cancer or people at increased risk for cancer,” said ASCO President Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO. “We are deeply concerned that more restrictive Medicaid eligibility policies will cause unnecessary delays in screening and care, and ultimately, worse outcomes for patients with cancer.”

The statement also underscores how Medicaid work requirements—which require verification of the patient’s work status from a physician—are adding to the growing administrative burden providers face, further cutting into their time with patients. The statement cites a recent finding that physicians currently spend 49% of their office hours updating records and files, rather than treating patients. 

“Medicaid work requirements will place an even greater administrative burden on physicians, thereby putting patients with cancer who participate in Medicaid at further risk of not receiving the high-quality care they deserve,” said Dr. Bertagnolli.

Read the full statement. ■

© 2018. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.


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