AS 2017 came to a close, ASCO offered the oncology community’s perspective to federal agencies—including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—in response to open comment periods before rules and plans for 2018 and 2019 programs and activities are finalized by these agencies.
In the fall of 2017, CMS released final 2018 rules for the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS), the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS), and the Quality Payment Program (QPP), with comment periods open through the end of the year. ASCO’s comments on these rules praised decisions such as providing relief to individual physicians impacted by hurricanes in 2017 but urged CMS to rescind program changes for 2018 that would increase financial burdens on an already fragile cancer care delivery system.
Specifically, ASCO urged CMS to rescind its 25% reimbursement cut to the 340B Drug Pricing Program and to reverse its decision to include Part B drug reimbursement in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System payment adjustment. The Society also reiterated ASCO’s Principles for Patient-Centered Healthcare Reform in its response to a proposed rule on the Affordable Care Act for 2019 and joined the Florida Society of Clinical Oncology and the Puerto Rico Hematology-Medical Oncology Association in sending a letter to CMS urging federal intervention to ensure patients impacted by Hurricane Maria have ongoing and continuous access to cancer care.
ASCO also submitted comments to FDA to help guide its newly established Opioid Policy Steering Committee (OPSC). In response to several FDA-posed questions aiming to inform OPSC’s work of effectively addressing the nationwide opioid crisis, ASCO recommended that the agency partner with providers and specialty organizations to develop expert guidelines on prescribing opioids. The Society noted the need for pain management to be tailored to specific patient circumstances for complex diseases such as cancer and suggested that clinical pathways could be a way to implement appropriate, consistent prescribing practices.
Read all of ASCO’s comment letters and breaking cancer policy updates at ascoaction.asco.org. ■
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