Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Drug Shortages Hit Oncology Hard: Experts Weigh in on Challenges and Solutions

Periodic drug shortages are an unavoidable reality in our complicated pharmaceutical supply chain; however, over the past several years, drug shortages have expanded to crisis levels, putting vulnerable patients at risk. In 2010, there were 178 drug shortages reported to the FDA, 132 of which were...

Health-Care Policy

A Dose of Destruction and Tough Love for Health Care

Title: The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care
 Author: Eric Topol, MD Publisher: Basic Books Publication date: February 1, 2012 Price: $27.99 / $31.00 (CAN), Hardcover, 320 pages More information: http://creativedestructionofmedicine.com/...

Health-Care Policy

A Visionary Call for the ‘Creative Destruction’ of Medicine

According to nationally regarded cardiologist and geneticist Eric Topol, MD, Chief Academic Officer of Scripps Health, the next frontier of the digital revolution can create exponentially better health care. Dr. Topol, who is also Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and...

Health-Care Policy

AACR Urges Congress to Maintain, Preferably Increase, Cancer Research Funding

December 23, 2011, marked the 40th anniversary of the National Cancer Act. To mark that occasion, on February 2, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) held a Congressional briefing, attended by about 100 legislative aides, to remind Congress that the war on cancer is far from over....

Health-Care Policy

Research Funding Key to Continued Progress in Cancer Care

American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) President and ASCO member Judy Garber, MD, MPH, recently spoke with The ASCO Post about the findings of AACR’s landmark Cancer Progress Report,1 In addition, she offered her perspective on the current and future state of cancer research. Project...

Health-Care Policy

Rising Costs in Radiation Oncology Linked to Medicare Coverage

In the ongoing debate over how to control rising cancer care costs, it is vital to identify usage patterns of expensive new technologies. A recent study examined the relationship between Medicare reimbursement and the increasing use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).1 The ASCO Post...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Searching for Quality in an Increasingly Complex Health-care Environment

With the Presidential election just around the corner, the health-care debate will undoubtedly heat up. The ASCO Post spoke with Sean R. Tunis, MD, MSc, Founder and Director, Center for Medical Technology Policy, and former Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, ...

Health-Care Policy

ACCC Meeting Focuses on Affordable Care Act: Its Future, and What It Might Accomplish

The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) mid-March Annual Meeting devoted several sessions to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Will it still be here after the Supreme Court decides its fate? If so, how much of it will survive, and how will it affect oncology practice? In...

Health-Care Policy

Letter to the Editor: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Reconsidered

I read with interest the front-page interview of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel by Jo Cavallo in the December 15, 2011, issue of The ASCO Post. Dr. Emanuel may have had some of the most prestigious positions in all of medicine, but his opinion of the Affordable Care Act is completely misguided. This...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Update on Oncology Drug Shortage: Better for Now, But Permanent Solutions Must Address Underlying Issues

Over the past few years, drug shortages in the United States have been on the rise, involving hundreds of agents, many of which are lifesaving medications for patients with cancer. In recent months, the FDA has taken steps to alleviate some of the most critical oncology drug shortages. “We should...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Maintenance of Certification in Medical Oncology

It is said that time is perhaps the most treasured asset we have. If you are a practicing oncologist, everyone wants more and more of your time, and I’m not referring to patients. Rather, there is an increasing proliferation of folks who want to make sure we’re doing a good job, and they are...

Health-Care Policy

ASCO Issues New Guideline on Chemotherapy Dosing for Obese Patients

In April, ASCO released a new clinical practice guideline on the appropriate dosing of chemotherapy drugs given to obese adult patients with cancer. The result of an analysis by a panel of experts assembled by ASCO, the guideline calls for the use of a patient's actual body weight when calculating...

Health-Care Policy

Physicians Need to Be Involved in Reducing Costs

I am so proud of ASCO for participating in the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s Choosing Wisely campaign (see The ASCO Post, May 1, page 19; and page 75 of this issue). I am the Associate Medical Director for a 280-physician multispecialty group in the Hudson Valley of New York,...

Health-Care Policy

ASCO Reexamines the Oncology Workforce Shortage

A study commissioned by ASCO in 2006 predicted a significant shortage of medical and gynecologic oncologists in the United States by 2020. As a result, the organization created the Workforce Implementation Group to develop recommendations to stem the projected workforce shortfall and ensure ongoing ...

Global Cancer Care
Health-Care Policy

Cancer Care in Rwanda: A Model of Creative Partnerships

While disparities in cancer care remain problematic in wealthy industrial nations like the United States, the challenges faced in poorer regions of the world are, by comparison, inestimable. Nationally regarded health-care expert Lawrence N. Shulman, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is part of...

Health-Care Policy

Three Experts Weigh In on the Health-care Reform Legislation

In light of the Supreme Court ruling, The ASCO Post asked three nationally regarded experts about how the Affordable Care Act will affect the practice of oncology. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania: This is an overwhelmingly...

Health-Care Policy

The Affordable Care Act Stands: Now What?

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law—a hotly contested bill that enacted sweeping changes to the U.S. health-care system. The debate over the Affordable Care Act continued all the way to the Supreme Court, spearheaded by the case Florida...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

As Conflicting Guidelines Evolve, Experts Continue to Debate the Merits of Cancer Screening

In the 1930s and 1940s, when the American Cancer Society [ACS] first brought forth the message that early cancer detection saves lives, it was a broad brushstroke and an appropriate message. The problem now is that new technology enables us to find [tumors that would never progress to invasive...

Prostate Cancer
Health-Care Policy

Senate Legislation Urges Federal Research Support to Improve Early Detection of Prostate Cancer

U.S. Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) led unanimous passage of Senate Resolution 493 to recognize prostate cancer as an epidemic striking African American men disproportionately, with 250% higher mortality and 60% higher incidence. This bipartisan legislation urges federal agencies to support research...

Health-Care Policy

Maintenance of Certification: One Size Should Not Fit All

After a conference call and having returned several phone calls, I again opened my ASCO Medical Oncology Self Evaluation Program (SEP) book hoping to steal an hour to reread the chapter on multiple myeloma, and begin digging deeper into head and neck cancer. It was March 2011, and my Maintenance of ...

Health-Care Policy

American Association for Cancer Research Mourns the Loss of Senator Arlen Specter

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) mourns the loss of Arlen Specter, who represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 2011. With his passing, the cancer research and biomedical science community lost one of its greatest supporters and promoters. During his five terms...

Health-Care Policy

Expert Point of View: Frank McCormick, PhD

The ASCO Post asked AACR President Frank McCormick, PhD, Director, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, about the ongoing problem of health-care disparities among minorities and other subpopulations. First, can the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act lessen these...

issues in oncology
cost of care
health-care policy

The Ethics of Rationing Cancer Care

Should cost be a consideration when deciding on treatment for patients with cancer, and if so, what kind of ethical dilemma does that pose for oncologists? With U.S. spending on oncology drugs expected to climb more than 20% annually over the next decade—reaching $173 billion by 2020, according to...

health-care policy

How Sequestration May Affect Cancer Research

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) began his political career in 1974 as a state representative in Ohio. He served as Ohio’s Secretary of State between 1983 and 1991, went on to serve in the U.S. Congress from 1993 to 2006, and was elected to the Senate in 2006. A supporter of biomedical and cancer...

health-care policy
legislation

President Obama Signs High-mortality Cancer Bill into Law

Just hours before the end of the 112th Congress, constitutional deadline for approval of a bill passed by that Congress, President Barack Obama signed into law the first legislation requiring comprehensive plans of research action for high-mortality cancers, with lung and pancreatic cancers given...

Health-Care Policy

Accountable Care Organizations: The New Normal?

The accountable care organization was introduced into our lexicon during a public meeting of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission in 2006, and the term became ubiquitous when it was specified in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. After the November 6 election, accountable...

health-care policy
legislation

Last-minute ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal by Congress Again Averts Medicare Cuts to Physicians

A last-minute patch to the sustainable growth rate formula included in the “fiscal cliff” deal averted massive cuts to oncologists who care for and treat Medicare patients. “This end-of-year crisis management once again demonstrates the critical need for fundamental reform of the Medicare...

health-care policy

Does Health-care Quality Translate to Value?

On March 23rd, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacting sweeping change in our health-care system. An underlying theme of the legislation is the realignment of our payment system so that it places value over volume of services. At ASCO’s first...

cost of care
health-care policy

More Thoughts on Rationing Cancer Care

I read the article about “The Ethics of Rationing Cancer Care” with interest (The ASCO Post, Dec 15, 2012). The issue of rationing (or rational) care has likely been debated since Hippocrates. Yet the topic has become a focus of acute interest with the current fiscal crises facing countries around...

health-care policy

Health Insurance Issues for Young Cancer Survivors

The latest addition to Cancer.Net’s video series for young adults, Moving Forward: Perspectives from Survivors and Doctors, deals with the health insurance issues young adult cancer survivors may face. This video series is a collaboration between Cancer.Net and LIVESTRONG. Each set of videos in the ...

cost of care
health-care policy

The Doctor Who Championed Patient Navigation in Harlem 

After completing his residency at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Harold P. Freeman, MD, arrived at Harlem Hospital Center in 1967, where the overwhelming majority of his patients presented with late-stage disease. That early experience with underserved patients would shape his career as...

health-care policy
legislation

Sequestration Will Have Shattering Impact on Entire U.S. Cancer Enterprise 

March 1 marked the beginning of sequestration, the unprecedented automatic budget cuts that immediately take effect across the federal government—after months of futile negotiations by the President and Congress. Sequestration will have a shattering impact on the entire cancer enterprise in the...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

Focus on the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California 

For more than 2 decades, the guiding principle of the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California (MOASC) has been to ensure the continuation of the private practice of medical oncology and to provide the highest quality care to cancer patients. Founded in 1990, MOASC is the largest...

health-care policy

Another Perspective on Accountable Care Organizations

I read with great interest Dr. Richard Boxer’s editorial on accountable care organizations in the January 15 issue of The ASCO Post. Much of what he says is unfortunately true. There are several points that I would like to make, however. First of all, Dr. Boxer states that the “principle that...

health-care policy
legislation

Focus on the Louisiana Oncology Society 

Founded on September 1, 1992, by John M. Rainey, MD, the Louisiana Oncology Society has had numerous legislative successes (see sidebar) since that time, including leading the effort to support Louisiana’s Oral Chemotherapy Parity Law, which was passed in 2012 and is now in effect throughout the...

health-care policy
legislation

AACR Briefs Congressional Staffers on Importance of Continued Funding for Research 

As we all now know, the start of the sequestration prescribed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 was delayed until March 1, 2013, by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. With Congress unable to strike a deal, the mandatory reductions in Federal spending were triggered on March 1. Those...

health-care policy

Highlights of ACCC Annual Meeting Include Discussion of Trends Shaping the Future of Health Care 

The 39th Annual National Meeting of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) was held in Washington, DC, in March. With a focus on business, economics, and policy, the program included the inauguration of a new ACCC President (see page 102), a keynote speech on the future of health care,...

health-care policy

Implementing a National Cancer Clinical Trials System for the 21st Century 

In March 2011, the National Cancer Policy Forum of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in conjunction with ASCO, held a workshop to discuss a collaborative approach to making the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded clinical trials system more viable and productive. That workshop included...

health-care policy

Rally for Medical Research Draws Thousands in Person and on Social Media 

In estimated 10,000 demonstrators filled the streets in front of Washington, DC’s historic Carnegie Library on April 8 to protest budget cuts at the National Institutes of Health. The Rally for Medical Research was held to “emphasize to our policymakers that medical research must become a national...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Disparities in Cancer Care: How A Deep South Community Overcame Them 

Racial inequities were a daily observation for Edward E. Partridge, MD, growing up in Alabama during the civil rights era. When he became a physician, he saw that these disparities extended into his own field, gynecologic oncology. He decided to do something about it. Dr. Partridge recently...

health-care policy
legislation

Congress Must Reverse Devastating Budget Cuts to Cancer Care

Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP, ASCO President, issued the following statement on April 27, 2013: “Today, out of concern for public safety, Congress provided the Federal Aviation Administration enhanced flexibility in application of sequestration related cuts, including reversal of furlough...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

ASCO Announces New Conflict of Interest Policy 

In April, ASCO released its updated conflict of interest policy in the development and presentation of scientific research and educational content. The revised policy is designed to increase transparency in financial relationships between individuals and health-care companies and impose new...

health-care policy
legislation

Sequestration's Impact on Cancer Care  

On March 1, the deficit-budget mechanism known as sequestration took effect, triggering $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to most federal agencies over the remaining 7 months in fiscal year 2013. The total federal deficit reduction budget under the Budget Control Act of 2011 calls for $1.2...

health-care policy
legislation

Accountable Care Organizations May Be at Risk for New Medical Liabilities 

The promotion of accountable care organizations, a crucial element in the Affordable Care Act, may result in liability risks, said H. Benjamin Harvey, MD, JD, a radiologist in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and I. Glenn Cohen, JD, Assistant Professor of Law at...

Health-Care Policy

ASCO Urges Administration to Provide Clear Affordable Care Act Guidance on Protecting Patient Access to Clinical Trials

ASCO has joined more than 50 other organizations in urging the Administration to issue regulations or guidance before January 2014 to ensure health plans implement an important provision of the Affordable Care Act that would remove a critical obstacle to patients interested in participating in...

health-care policy
legislation

The Sunshine Act Calls for Greater Transparency in Industry-Doctor Relationships 

Signed into law on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act represents the most significant overhaul of the U.S. health-care system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Because of the law’s sheer scope, parts of it still remain obfuscated by its 2,400 or so...

health-care policy

AACR Cautions Diminished NIH Funding Jeopardizes Ability to Eradicate Cancer Health Disparities

Recently the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) hosted a congressional briefing to highlight the significance of federally funded biomedical research in improving our understanding of cancer health disparities and developing targeted interventions to eliminate them. Disproportionate...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

Combining Community Practice and Health Policy Advocacy 

Barbara L. McAneny, MD, is a board-certified medical oncologist/hematologist with a robust community practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. McAneny, who has held many leadership roles in oncology associations, became a delegate to the American Medical Association (AMA) from ASCO in 2002, was...

health-care policy
legislation

Sustainable Growth Rate Bill Advances in the House 

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has unanimously approved the Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act of 2013, which replaces Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula. The law would provide 5 years of stable Medicare payments beginning in 2014, with reimbursement rates...

health-care policy

Straight Talk: The Future of Medical and Health Research 

Nearly 200 scientists and stakeholders in the research community attended Research!America’s National Health Research Forum on September 12, at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington, DC. Research!America’s President and CEO, Mary Woolley, opened the program. “The theme for this...

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