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Cancer Costs

Posted 5/25/2015

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  First, Happy Memorial Day and my apologies for a very late posting (not that anyone really cares). We were in Maine for a delicious long weekend, and I chose not to write early this morning but to wait until we were home, unpacked, air conditioner installed in the bedroom, new humming bird feeder hung, grass seed watered (not yet looking hopeful), groceries bought, laundry done, etc. You all know the routine.

  There is a lot of interest and conversation about the cost of cancer treatment and the value of treatment and how to understand and balance those two factors. As some of you know, my husband has been chairing the ASCO committee  about this important topic, so it is a frequent conversation around our dinner table or when (like today) we are sitting in traffic. It is all so complicated and so personal. It feels very important to ask patients about their values; what one of us assumes is important may not be so at all to another person. Is it most important to stay alive for every possible moment or until an important event or is it more important to focus on quality of life and not spending all the family's savings? No easy answers, and I hope that our country is embarking on a serious and honest dialogue about this. It is so very painful and difficult to think about balancing an individual's wishes vs. the needs of the larger society.

  This is a thoughtful essay from ASCO about all of this. You heard it hear first: way more to shortly follow.

ASCO Proposes Payment Reforms to Support Higher Quality, More Affordable Cancer Care
Designed to Meet Federal Standards for Alternative Payment Models

Alexandria, VA – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today released a proposal to significantly improve the quality and affordability of care
for cancer patients. Expanding on a payment model circulated last year, the ASCO proposal would fundamentally restructure the way oncologists are paid for cancer care in the United States by providing sufficient payment to support the full range of services that cancer patients need and removing the barriers created by the current payment system to delivering high-quality, affordable care.
ASCO’s Patient-Centered Oncology Payment: Payment Reform to Support Higher Quality, More Affordable Cancer Care (PCOP) proposal is designed to simultaneously improve services to patients and reduce spending for Medicare and other payers.
“ASCO has developed a payment reform proposal that addresses the serious financial challenges facing today’s oncology practices, addresses the problems of affordability facing both payers and patients, and ensures that patients with cancer will be able to receive the full range of services that are critical to high-quality, evidence-based care,” said ASCO President Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO. “Furthermore, we believe that PCOP would qualify as an alternative payment model, thereby helping to advance federal goals for improving the quality and affordability of health care.
According to ASCO, PCOP would meet the definition of an Alternative Payment Model as set out in legislation Congress enacted last month to repeal Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate formula.


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