health-care policy
legislation

The Scientific Perils of Sequestration 

We are just 7 months into the $1 trillion in automatic federal budget spending cuts known as sequestration, and the impact on scientists in all areas of research is already so great, some say its full effects may be irreversible. The ASCO Post recently interviewed ASCO President Clifford A. Hudis, ...

health-care policy

IOM Report Illuminates U.S. Cancer Care Crisis and Offers Framework for Change

In September, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies issued its report, Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis,1 published more than a decade after its first study on the quality of cancer care in the United States. The authors of the...

cost of care
health-care policy

Improving Quality Measurement in Cancer Care: Policy Recommendations

Quality measurement—how we assess cost and effectiveness of cancer care—cannot be separated from policy decisions that have a profound influence on the overall health-care system. At the recent ASCO Quality Care Symposium, Jennifer L. Malin, MD, PhD, Medical Director for Oncology at WellPoint, Inc, ...

health-care policy
cost of care

Innovative Payment Models Needed to Sustain Quality Cancer Care  

Nationally regarded health-care expert Lee N. Newcomer, MD, MHA, began his presentation at this year’s ASCO Quality Care Symposium with a rhetorical question. “Why are we talking about money when we’re gathered in San Diego for 2 days to discuss some wonderful ways to impact the quality of cancer...

health-care policy

National Cancer Policy Summit: Setting Priorities for the Next 3 Years

Welcome to the meeting we hold every 3 years to choose our next projects,” said John Mendelsohn, MD, Chair of the National Cancer Policy Forum and Director of the Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. “We have here a...

health-care policy

IOM Makes Clinical Data Available for Research

In 1979, Congress mandated that an epidemiologic study be launched to evaluate the frequency and type of adverse health conditions experienced by military personal as a result of their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War. Called the Air Force Health Study...

health-care policy

Statement by ASCO President Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP,  on ACS Report

“The American Cancer Society [recently] issued a report showing a 20% decline in cancer death rates between 1991 and 2010, and estimating that 1.3 million deaths have been averted as a result of the decline.  “This is tremendous progress and a direct result of our nation’s commitment to cancer...

health-care policy

ASCO Statement on Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer 

Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, President of ASCO, commented recently on the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, co-authored by the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

Surgeon General’s New Report Attributes Smoking as Cause of Death in More Than 20 Million Americans Over Past 50 Years

According to a new Surgeon General’s report issued last month, more than 20 million Americans have died from smoking over the past 50 years. The new report concludes that cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans a year, with an additional 16 million suffering from smoking-related...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

50th Anniversary of the First U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

“When the first Surgeon General’s Report was released in 1964, more than half of American men and over a third of women smoked and lung cancer had gone from an obscure disease to a leading cause of death. In issuing this pioneering report summarizing the known health risks of smoking, our nation’s...

health-care policy

ASCO Proposes New Framework for Medicare Reimbursement

In the fifth installment of the Physician Payment Reform Educational Series, ASCO presents an alternative for oncology reimbursement that recognizes and rewards high-quality, high-value care for patients with cancer. ASCO hopes this proposal will spark conversation within the oncology community and ...

health-care policy

Major Cancer Advances in 2013 Highlight Importance of Federal Funding

About one-third of the most important clinical advances in cancer last year were made possible at least in part through federal funding, according to ASCO’s annual report on progress in cancer, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1 Significant Declines in Funding The report, “Clinical...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

The Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco Turns 50: Much Success, Much Work Ahead

On January 11, 2014, the nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of a document that transformed our public health landscape and has saved millions of lives: Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. This groundbreaking report, which...

health-care policy

President Obama’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal

[On March 4, 2014], President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2015. Among several cost-cutting measures designed to preserve Medicare solvency is a proposal to reduce reimbursement for life-sustaining cancer drugs. Currently, reimbursement to physicians for “Part B” drugs is...

health-care policy

ASCO Addresses Changes in Medicare for 2014

Medicare patients make up 61% of new cancer cases in the United States, and as the population ages, that proportion is expected to rise to 70% by 2030. Over the past decade, the oncology community has been financially challenged by alterations in the Medicare payment system. To address the changes...

breast cancer
health-care policy

Affordable Care Act to Cover Chemoprevention for Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer

On January 9, 2014, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced that under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, women at increased risk of breast cancer will be entitled to preventive medications without incurring out-of-pocket costs (with the...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

FDA Orders Cessation of Sale, Distribution of Four Tobacco Products

FDA has issued orders to stop the further sale and distribution of four tobacco products currently on the market. The action marks the first time the FDA has used its authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to order a manufacturer of currently available tobacco...

health-care policy

The Evolution of U.S. Cooperative Group Trials: Publicly Funded Cancer Research at a Crossroads

Over the past 5 decades, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Clinical Trials Cooperative Groups have played an enormous role in the fight against cancer, tackling a broad social agenda, including cancer prevention, quality-of-life issues for patients with cancer, and comparison of benefits among...

legislation
health-care policy

Greatly Frustrated by Congressional Failure to Act on Sustainable Growth Rate

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is deeply frustrated by the failure of Congress to permanently repeal the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to set Medicare physician payments and passage of the 17th patch to the system. ASCO and the entire physician community...

health-care policy

The FDA’s Bad Ad Program

INSIDE THE BLACK BOX is an occasional column providing insight into the FDA and its policies and procedures. In this installment, Robert Dean, MBA, Director, and Michael Sauers, Deputy Director, of Division II in the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion discuss the FDA’s Bad Ad program. The ...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

ASCO Signs Joint Open Letter to End Tobacco Sales

ASCO has joined 26 of the nation’s leading public health and medical organizations in signing a joint letter calling on drug stores and other retailers to end the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The open letter came just weeks after CVS Caremark announced it would stop selling...

health-care policy

ASCO Calls for Clear Guidance on Tobacco Cessation Benefits in the Affordable Care Act

ASCO has signed a joint letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for clear and comprehensive guidance on the tobacco cessation benefit in the Affordable Care Act regulations. In the letter, the organizations applaud the Department of Health and Human ...

cost of care
health-care policy

American College of Radiology Issues Statement on Budgetary Efforts to Curtail Imaging and Radiation Oncology Self-Referral

The American College of Radiology (ACR) recently issued a statement applauding steps to reign in medical imaging and radiation oncology self-referral included in the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget. However, prior authorization for imaging services, also included in the FY2015 budget, is...

health-care policy

ASCO Releases Its First-Ever Report on the State of Cancer Care in America

On March 11, ASCO released its first-ever comprehensive assessment of the daunting challenges facing America’s ability to continue to deliver high-quality care to all patients with cancer. ASCO President Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, introduced the assessment at a Congressional news briefing in...

health-care policy

The Outlook on Cancer Research in This Era of Leaner Federal Funding

In the March 1, 2014, issue of The ASCO Post we talked with Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about the future of biomedical research at the NIH during this time of constrained federal funding. We continue that conversation here with our interview of...

health-care policy

The Affordable Care Act: NCCN Panelists Rate It ‘Average’

Oncologists and third-party payers are already experiencing changes as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which earned an “average” rating by a panel of providers, payers, and patients assembled at the 19th Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) in Hollywood,...

health-care policy

Unprecedented Release of Medicare Data Raises Concerns About Lack of Context: Statements From COA and ASTRO

In April, as part of the Obama administration’s work to make the U.S. health-care system more transparent, affordable, and accountable, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a vast amount of privacy-protected data on services and procedures provided to Medicare...

health-care policy

Patients Benefit From Faster FDA Drug Approval Process

In an increasing spirit of cooperation, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several pharmaceutical companies are bringing to fruition the newest in a series of ways to expedite drug development and review. Breakthrough therapy is the designation instituted in 2012 by the FDA Safety and...

Health-Care Policy
Geriatric Oncology

AACR Calls on Congress to Support Cancer Research Funding to Meet the Challenges of Our Aging Population

Great progress is being made in the battle against cancer, but a renewed commitment of federal support for medical research is needed to speed its eradication, according to leaders of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), commenting in connection with a recent Senate hearing on “The...

cost of care
health-care policy

Cancer Care Under the Affordable Care Act

The problematic rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s website, HealthCare.gov, made good political theater, but while much of the heated discussion centered on the plan’s need to enroll “young invincibles,” America’s cancer care system and the older patients it serves were also affected by parts of...

health-care policy

IOM Workshop Explores Growing Problems in Patient Access to Cancer Drugs

Cancer patients’ out-of-pocket costs are rising dramatically, and insurance premiums, cost sharing, and ancillary expenses can be devastating. Many people go bankrupt as a result of the high costs of health care. Drugs are among the most serious economic culprits. They grow more expensive every...

health-care policy

FDA Takes Steps to Help Ensure the Reliability of Certain Diagnostic Tests

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently took important steps to ensure that certain tests used by health-care professionals to help diagnose and treat patients provide accurate, consistent, and reliable results. First, the FDA is issuing a final guidance on the development, review,...

health-care policy

ASCO Launches Online Resource to Help Oncologists Understand the Impact of the Affordable Care Act

This year, major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 are being implemented, with far-reaching impacts on health-care providers and patients. In addition to implementing requirements under the new law, oncology practices are treating considerably more patients with...

health-care policy

Proposed 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Rules Released

On July 3, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its proposed rules for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System for 2015. The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule, which is titled “Medicare Program: Revisions to...

Health-Care Policy

Does the United States Have the Best Health-Care System in the World?

Many concerns were raised and dire speculations predicted during the further implementation of the Affordable Care Act this year. So far, the trickling news is good: An estimated total of 20 million people gained coverage under the new law as of May 1,1 about 6 million enrolled in the law’s...

issues in oncology
global cancer care
health-care policy

Delivering Cancer Care in Low-Income Countries

In eealthy industrialized nations like the United States, escalating costs of cancer care have put the term “cost-effective care” on the forefront of health-care policy discussions. However, the cost issues we wrestle with in our $3 trillion health-care system are vague abstractions for much of the ...

Breast Cancer
Gynecologic Cancers
Health-Care Policy

CDC’s Breast and Cervical Screening Program Benefits Millions of Underserved Women in the United States

More than 4.3 million women with limited access to health care received breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services in the first 20 years of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. From 1991 to 2011, 56,662...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

9/11 and Cancer: What Do We Know?

On September 11, 2001, the devastating terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center left in its wake a unique toxic site in both mass and quantity of hazardous materials. It took 9 months to remove approximately 2 million tons of wreckage from Ground Zero, during which thousands of...

health-care policy

AACR 2014 Cancer Progress Report Call to Action: Prioritize Federal Funding for Biomedical Research

Last month, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) released its 2014 Cancer Progress Report: Transforming Lives Through Research, which highlights the quickening pace of drug development and approval, especially in molecularly targeted agents, that are leading to increased numbers of...

health-care policy

Health-Care Reform Is Changing the Oncology Landscape

Value-based health-care reform is happening. We have to get on board,” Rena Conti, PhD, a health economist at the University of Chicago, advised attendees of the Best of ASCO Seattle meeting. She discussed highlights from Annual Meeting sessions that addressed the impact of the Affordable Care Act...

health-care policy
cost of care

Tough Questions About Health-Care Reform Put Economist in Hot Seat

Although diverse stakeholders agree that health reform is needed, there is little consensus on the specifics of that reform. Best of ASCO Seattle attendees put a number of pointed questions to health economist Rena Conti, PhD, of the University of Chicago, asking about thorny issues such as cost...

health-care policy

ASCO Calls for Major Medicaid Reform to Improve Quality Cancer Care for Low-Income Americans

ASCO issued its new Policy Statement on Medicaid Reform on November 17, which calls for major changes to the program to ensure access to high-quality cancer care for all low-income individuals. The Society’s recommendations call for Medicaid expansion in all 50 states to close coverage gaps,...

health-care policy

Policy Issues in Molecularly Targeted Therapy: The Science, the Money, the Applications

In the past decade, much new knowledge about the molecular underpinnings of cancer has accumulated, and the array of molecular aberrations in each individual tumor can be assessed through genomic sequencing and other tests. The rationale for and feasibility of developing molecularly targeted...

lung cancer
health-care policy

CMS Issues Preliminary Decision to Cover Annual Lung Cancer Screening

In a long-awaited decision, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a preliminary proposal to cover annual lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography for appropriate beneficiaries following counseling and a shared–decision-making visit with a qualified...

issues in oncology
health-care policy

ASCO and AACR Call for Regulation of E-Cigarettes and Other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and ASCO have outlined steps in a joint statement to guide policymakers as they work to minimize the potential negative consequences of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other electronic nicotine delivery systems without undermining their...

health-care policy

Molecular Pathologists vs the FDA: Proposed Regulation of Laboratory-Developed Tests Sparks Debate

The packed ballroom looked like a plenary session at any big medical research meeting. But on the dais were representatives of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the subject was the Agency’s proposed regulation of laboratory-developed tests, and the attendees who lined up to ask questions for...

health-care policy

Transitioning From Volume to Value in Cancer Care

In an oncology health-care system that is increasingly changing its delivery and payment models, how do busy oncologists successfully bridge the transition from a volume- to value-based, patient-centric model? This, and other topics on value fueled a robust discussion at the Association of...

health-care policy

ASCO Policy Statement Urges Removal of Barriers to Patient Participation in Phase I Clinical Trials

ASCO has released a policy statement calling for greater access to and education about phase I clinical trials, the first-in-human studies of new agents designed to fight cancer. In “The Critical Role of Phase I Trials in Cancer Research and Treatment” ASCO policy statement, the Society stresses...

lung cancer
issues in oncology
health-care policy

At Long Last: CMS Will Cover Lung Cancer Screening

Few issues in health-care debates are more contentious and polarizing than population screening for the early detection of cancer. After a decades-long battle, lung cancer screening advocates have just received what they have long sought: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has...

health-care policy

Health-Care Issues Front and Center on Capitol Hill, in Statehouses This Year

As of January 6, Republicans hold the majority in both houses of the 114th Congress. They hold 54 seats in the U.S. Senate and 245 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the state level, Republicans now hold an increased majority of governorships and legislatures that will consider numerous ...

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