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health-care policy
issues in oncology

ASCO Calls for Improvements to Clinical Pathway Programs in Oncology

ASCO released a new policy statement with recommendations to ensure that clinical pathways in oncology promote—not hinder—the care of patients with cancer. Published by Zon et al in the Journal of Oncology Practice, the statement asserts that the way in which these treatment management...

Health-Care Policy

Opinion: The FDA–Pharmaceutical Industry Complex

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation, coined the term “the military-industrial complex.” His purpose was to warn of the inefficiencies that could result from such a relationship, which would imperil the strength of our military and the safety of ...

Health-Care Policy

Conflicts of Interest in Health-care Reform?

Last year’s health-care reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was designed to incrementally roll out major new bureaucratic entities, oversight, and mandates for the practice of medicine between its enactment and 2013, after the next presidential election. A new...

Health-Care Policy

Are Clinical Pathways Inevitable in Oncology’s Future?

Our health-care system is undergoing a gradual but inevitable sea change, shifting from traditional fee-for-service to fee-for-value. A session at this year’s Association of Community Cancer Centers meeting in Washington, DC, shed light on how this trend will reshape incentives and the clinical...

Cost of Care
Health-Care Policy

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

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....

Global Cancer Care
Health-Care Policy

Cancer Care in the UK: A Conversation with Chris Parker, MD

In the contentious debate over rising health-care spending, the cancer care policies of the British National Health Service (NHS) are often cited by U.S. policymakers as an example of how health-care rationing denies patients life-prolonging treatments based on costs. The ASCO Post recently spoke...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Congressional Hearing Highlights Oncology Drug Shortages

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...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

Fixing the Drug Shortage: It’s About Time

I have spent the past 30 years trying to improve the results of treatment for advanced cancer. I had the privilege of working with Sir Michael Peckham when the late Professor Tim McElwain and he were evolving variants of the PVB (cisplatin, vinblastine, bleomycin) and PEB (cisplatin, etoposide,...

Cost of Care
Health-Care Policy

Increased Use of Hospital Services Boosts Oncology Spending

For our ongoing series on the rising costs of cancer care, The ASCO Post spoke with Lee N. Newcomer, MD, Senior Vice President of Oncology for UnitedHealthcare. Dr. Newcomer is responsible for improving cost-effective cancer care at the nation’s largest health insurer. He shed light on areas of...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

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

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...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

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

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...

Health-Care Policy

A Conversation with Monica Morrow, MD, FACS

Over the past 15 years, practice guidelines have become an accepted tool to help physicians optimize patient care by offering informed assessment of the benefits and potential harms associated with various care options. However, a plethora of new guidelines have entered the market, many of which...

Cost of Care
Palliative Care
Health-Care Policy

Palliative Care, Quality of Life, and Cost

More than half of our nation’s patients with cancer are Medicare beneficiaries, making the entitlement program ground zero in the heated debate on health-care spending. Total Medicare expenditures attributable to beneficiaries in their last year of life runs upward of 30%; this statistic serves as...

Health-Care Policy

Oncology Community Faces Complex Challenges in Evolving Policy Arena

As the political environment heats up in advance of the upcoming presidential campaign season, many issues crucial to the oncology community are being placed on the political chopping block as policymakers seek ways to reduce the mounting debt and soaring health-care spending. To help clarify some...

Health-Care Policy

ASCO Issues Policy Statement to Reduce Cancer Care Disparities

Last August, ASCO issued the policy statement, “Opportunities in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to Reduce Cancer Care Disparities” in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1 The statement builds on ASCO’s policy on disparities in cancer care released in 2009. It calls on both the...

Health-Care Policy

Can Bayesian Design Streamline Our Sluggish Clinical Trial System?

The randomized controlled clinical trial has long been the gold standard for new cancer drugs to demonstrate worthiness of FDA approval; however, many experts contend that that our method of bringing drugs to the market is plagued by undue costs, long delays, and overregulation. According to Donald ...

Health-Care Policy

Health-care Policy: A Three-act Play

The health of Americans, the economy, the debt crisis, and the action or inaction in Washington are all seriously interrelated. Decades ago, the bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robs banks. His famous answer, “Because that’s where the money is,” succinctly describes the approach that...

Global Cancer Care
Health-Care Policy

Tobacco Remains the Dominant Global Risk Factor Underlying Cancer

Despite clear evidence that tobacco causes at least 18 types of cancer, as well as many other diseases, many people all over the world smoke or chew tobacco, or are exposed to secondhand smoke. Although smoking among Americans has declined slowly but steadily over the past 40 years, it remains the...

Health-Care Policy

AACR Issues Landmark Report on Cancer Progress

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 ...

Health-Care Policy

ASCO Supports the United Nations Political Declaration on Noncommunicable Diseases

In September, government leaders from around the world as well as representatives from civil society, the private sector and academia gathered at the United Nations in New York for the first-ever summit on the growing economic and human crisis posed by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), especially in ...

Health-Care Policy

Medicare Reimbursement to Physicians: Déjà Vu All Over Again

In February 2011, The ASCO Post published an opinion piece (“Congress and the ‘Doctor Fix’: Looking Back, Looking Ahead”) about the ping-pong of legislative continuing resolutions to avert a 21.3% cut in physician reimbursement. These continuing resolutions were necessary because the Affordable...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

A Conversation with Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD

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 ...

Health-Care Policy

FDA Completes Work on Three Drug User Fee Programs

The FDA recently completed its recommendations for three user fee programs that will help speed safe and effective drugs and lower-cost generic drug and biosimilar biologic products to patients, according to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD. The programs include the fifth authorization of...

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

SIDEBAR: How Other Countries Are Controlling Oncology Costs

The refrain is familiar: The United States spends more on health care than any other industrialized country, but the investment does not correspond to superior care. A recent study by The Commonwealth Fund, a health-care policy research foundation, shows just how stark the contrast is. Instructive ...

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...

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