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Health-Care Policy

Health-Care Policy

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

Hagop Kantarjian, MD  /  August 15, 2014

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 Medicaid...

Health-Care Policy

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

Jo Cavallo  /  November 15, 2013

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 new...

Issues in Oncology

Despite Progress, Chemotherapy Drug Shortages Still Vex the Oncology Community

Ronald Piana  /  October 15, 2012

During the first week of November 2011, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the FDA to take steps to help resolve the drug shortages that were affecting patient care across the country. The oncology community was hit especially hard; many of the drug shortfalls were generic chemother...

Health-Care Policy
Issues in Oncology

ASCO’s State of Cancer Care in America: 2017 Report Acknowledges Both the Progress Made in Oncology Care and the Challenges Ahead

Jo Cavallo  /  April 10, 2017

Despite advances in cancer risk assessment, prevention, disease detection, drug development, and health-care delivery, which have led to unparalleled reductions in cancer incidence and mortality, access to affordable health care and increased administrative burdens placed on oncology practices threa...

Lung Cancer
Health-Care Policy

CMS Issues Preliminary Decision to Cover Annual Lung Cancer Screening

Ronald Piana  /  December 15, 2014

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 provider...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

9/11 and Cancer: What Do We Know?

Ronald Piana  /  September 15, 2014

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 emergen...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

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

Ronald Piana  /  February 15, 2014

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 de...

Health-Care Policy

Major Cancer Advances in 2013 Highlight Importance of Federal Funding

Caroline McNeil  /  February 1, 2014

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 Ca...

Cost of Care

Oncologists Speak Out Against the High Cost of Cancer Drugs 

Jo Cavallo  /  August 15, 2013

That the United States spends twice as much on health care than other industrialized countries—about $2.8 trillion in 2012—without reaping appreciably better outcomes1 is not news. The topic has been dissected on the front pages of leading newspapers for years and was the subject of the entire featu...

Health-Care Policy
Legislation

Sequestration's Impact on Cancer Care  

Jo Cavallo  /  May 15, 2013

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 trilli...

Cost of Care
Survivorship

Study Finds Young Cancer Survivors Often Skip Checkups

Jo Cavallo  /  March 1, 2013

Athough the majority of the more than 69,000 adolescents and young adults (AYAs) diagnosed with cancer each year will survive their disease, many of them will experience interruptions in their education and a derailment in their career tract, curtailing their lifetime earning potential and reducing ...

Health-Care Policy

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

Margot J. Fromer  /  April 15, 2012

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 la...

Health-Care Policy

A Visionary Call for the ‘Creative Destruction’ of Medicine

Ronald Piana  /  March 1, 2012

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 Professor...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

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

Ronald Piana  /  February 15, 2012

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 s...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

A Conversation with Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD

Jo Cavallo  /  December 15, 2011

Last September, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, a leading scholar in bioethics and health-care policy, was named the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor and Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His appointment will be shared between ...

Issues in Oncology
Legislation

Debate Over Physician-Assisted Suicide Continues, State by State

Ronald Piana  /  November 10, 2015

In 1997, after surviving a storm of high-court legal challenges, Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act went into effect, making Oregon the first American state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The Supreme Court ruled that there was no right to assisted suicide in the Constitution but implied that s...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

ASCO Releases 2015 Report on The State of Cancer Care in America

Jo Cavallo  /  May 10, 2015

In March, ASCO published its second annual report, The State of Cancer Care in America: 2015.1 Its findings show a mixed landscape, on the one hand, spotlighting advances in therapy and improving survival rates, but on the other, describing a cancer care system under stress from increasing demand fo...

Health-Care Policy

IOM Workshop Explores Growing Problems in Patient Access to Cancer Drugs

Margot Fromer  /  July 10, 2014

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 year...

Lung Cancer
Issues in Oncology

Medicare Advisory Panel Cast Doubts on Lung Cancer Screening, Leaving Advocates Dismayed but Undaunted

Ronald Piana  /  June 10, 2014

On April 30, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) convened the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) to assess the value of low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening in the Medicare population. After a decades-long battle, lung...

Issues in Oncology

ASCO Speaks Out on Release of Medicare Physician Payment Data

The ASCO Post  /  May 1, 2014

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is deeply concerned about [the recent] release of Medicare physician payment data. ASCO is committed to the delivery of high-quality, high-value care for all people with cancer in the United States. This data release solely focuses attention on the do...

Health-Care Policy

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

Jo Cavallo  /  April 15, 2014

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 Washi...

Legislation

Congress Agrees on Repeal of Sustainable Growth Rate

Ronald Piana  /  March 1, 2014

The U.S. Congress recently did something rarely seen on Capitol Hill: Leaders from both sides of the aisle agreed on a piece of legislation. On February 6, 2014, the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees and the Senate Finance Committee announced its agreement on a bill—the SGR Rep...

Issues in Oncology
Legislation

Supreme Court Rules Human Genes May Not Be Patented 

Jo Cavallo  /  July 10, 2013

On June 13, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that isolated human genes may not be patented. However, the creation of synthetic forms of DNA, known as complementary DNA (cDNA), is eligible for patent protection. The decision resolves the question brought before the Supreme Court justices in t...

Health-Care Policy

Does Health-care Quality Translate to Value?

Ronald Piana  /  January 15, 2013

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 Qu...

Health-Care Policy

The Affordable Care Act Stands: Now What?

Ronald Piana  /  July 15, 2012

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 v...

Cost of Care

Cost of Care: A Multidisciplinary Responsibility

Daniel A. Vorobiof, MD  /  February 15, 2012

I read the interview with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (The ASCO Post, December 15, 2011) with much interest, as the health-care policy problems that America is currently experiencing have plagued other countries for some time. Despite proactive measures and attempts to amend those situations elsewhere, litt...

Issues in Oncology

Do We Need the USPSTF?

Derek Raghavan, MD, PhD  /  November 1, 2011

Like most of the folks reading this commentary, I’m a taxpayer. Although I sometimes become impatient with the strategic games on Capitol Hill, I basically appreciate that government helps many things to work, and some of them even work well. However, there are aspects of government function that d...

Health-Care Policy
Immunotherapy

CMS Finalizes Decision to Cover CAR T-Cell Therapy for Medicare Beneficiaries

The ASCO Post  /  August 25, 2019

ON AUGUST 7, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized the decision to cover U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy among recipients of Medicare benefits. FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies are approved to treat patients ...

Health-Care Policy

Health-Care Reform Is Changing the Oncology Landscape

Susan London  /  October 15, 2014

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 o...

Health-Care Policy
Legislation

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

The ASCO Post  /  January 15, 2013

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 reimbursem...

Health-Care Policy

Three Experts Weigh In on the Health-care Reform Legislation

Ronald Piana  /  July 15, 2012

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 p...

Cost of Care
Health-Care Policy

Rising Costs of Cancer Care: It's More Than Drugs

Ronald Piana  /  August 15, 2011

All parties—the government, payers, and consumers—agree that, left unchecked, rising health-care costs will eventually hamstring vital portions of our delivery system. For example, Medicare, which covers more than 50% of the nation’s patients with cancer, is marching headlong toward insolvency. Larg...

Health-Care Policy

After Decades of Uncertainty, the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula Is Repealed by Congress

Ronald Piana  /  May 10, 2015

The U.S. Congress recently did something remarkable: both parties reached across the aisle and overwhelmingly passed H.R. 2, a bill that will permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR), the problematic formula for Medicare reimbursement. It just needed the President’s signature, which it r...

Palliative Care

Private Payer and Academic Center Data Capture Inappropriate Use of End-of-Life Care

Alice Goodman  /  December 15, 2014

Data sharing between a comprehensive cancer center and a private insurer appears to be a novel way to capture practice patterns that can point to potential quality improvements. A study that combined data from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts showed that some ...

Health-Care Policy
Cost of Care

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

Susan London  /  October 15, 2014

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 con...

Prostate Cancer
Health-Care Policy

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

The ASCO Post  /  August 15, 2012

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 f...

Health-Care Policy

ASCO Commends U.S. House of Representatives for Voting to Repeal the SGR, Urges Senate to Pass Legislation

The ASCO Post  /  April 10, 2015

We applaud the House of Representatives for passing legislation that eliminates the Sustainable Growth Rate [SGR] formula and takes a giant leap toward meaningful and urgently needed Medicare physician payment reform. Cancer incidence among Medicare beneficiaries is expected to increase by 67% by 20...

Global Cancer Care

Viral Infection and Liver Cancer: A Global Health Crisis

Ronald Piana  /  October 15, 2012

It is estimated that at least 15% of all cancers worldwide can be attributed to infectious etiologies, mostly viral infections. At this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, an intriguing session on virally induced cancers provided critical clues that could be of real practical value in advancing our battle a...

Health-Care Policy

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

Jo Cavallo  /  December 1, 2014

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, improve...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Oncology Drug Shortage: An Unintended Consequence of the Medicare Modernization Act and Free-market Forces?

Ronald Piana  /  September 15, 2011

Oncology has a drug shortage problem, and the FDA says that it is getting worse. Drug shortages are not a new phenomenon, but over the past few years we have seen a rapidly growing number of shortfalls that are limiting providers’ ability to care for their patients. In 2004, the FDA reported 58 drug...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Developing Targeted-agent Combinations: Business and Regulatory Issues, and Legal Obstacles

Margot J. Fromer  /  September 15, 2011

The Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum recently convened a public workshop, “Facilitating Collaborations to Develop Combination Investigational Cancer Therapies,” to address the promises and challenges involved in the development of combination oncologic drug therapies. In the Sept...

Breast Cancer
Cost of Care

Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy Program Improves Adherence to Hormone Therapy After Breast Cancer Surgery

The ASCO Post  /  December 1, 2014

Findings from a study of more than 23,000 women suggest that the Medicare Part D Extra Help program, which provides low-income subsidies for medications, improves adherence to hormone therapy after breast cancer surgery in all racial/ethnic groups and reduces racial/ethnic disparities. The study, re...

Health-Care Policy

AACR Issues Landmark Report on Cancer Progress

Ronald Piana  /  November 1, 2011

At a recent press conference in Washington, DC, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) assembled luminaries from the cancer research and care communities to discuss the salient points of the association’s newly released progress report on the current and future state of cancer research ...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Congressional Hearing Highlights Oncology Drug Shortages

Margot Fromer  /  September 1, 2011

Some oncology drugs are in such short supply that the situation is now critical, with almost 200 drugs affected—triple that of 2003. This was the background described by speakers at a July 2011 congressional briefing sponsored by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), ASCO, and other ca...

Issues in Oncology

U.S. Government Accountability Office Issues Report on Drug Shortages

The ASCO Post  /  March 1, 2014

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report evaluating drug shortages and the associated public health threats, including prolonged duration of a disease, permanent injury, and death.1 This report follows a recommendation by GAO in 2011 that the U.S. Food and Drug Admini...

Global Cancer Care
Pain Management
Palliative Care

Untreated Cancer Pain Remains a Significant Global Problem

Ronald Piana  /  May 15, 2012

“Physicians are afraid of morphine … Doctors [in Kenya] are so used to patients dying in pain … they think that this is how you must die. They are suspicious if you don’t die this way — [and feel] that you died prematurely.” —Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. John Weru of Nairobi Hospice, Kenya...

Health-Care Policy

Pediatric Oncology Groups Endorse Ethical Framework for Rationing Scarce Drugs

Kirsten Boyd Goldberg  /  March 10, 2016

The Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO) have endorsed formal clinical recommendations for rationing chemotherapy and supportive care agents during times of shortage. The guidance is needed because persistent shortages of many standard the...

Biomedical Research Faces Imminent $2.4 Billion Budget Cut Unless Congress Acts

The ASCO Post  /  September 15, 2012

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) faces a significant budget reduction in January 2013 due to automatic across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, required under the federal Budget Control Act of 2011. The estimated $2.4 billion NIH cut could result in 700 to 2,300 fewer research grants fu...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

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

Jo Cavallo  /  August 15, 2012

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 cance...

Health-Care Policy

Rising Costs in Radiation Oncology Linked to Medicare Coverage

Ronald Piana  /  March 15, 2012

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 spo...

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