From June 9-14, ASCO’s delegates participated in the American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual House of Delegates (HOD) meeting to advocate on behalf of oncologists and patients with cancer. The AMA HOD, the principal policy-making body of the AMA, meets twice each year (June and November) to establish the association’s policy priorities. ASCO’s delegates at the AMA HOD are: Edward P. Balaban, DO, FACP, FASCO, and Thomas A. Marsland, MD, FASCO. Ray Page, DO, PhD, FACOI, and Kristina L. Maletz Novick, MD, the society's alternate delegates, also participated in this meeting. Steve Y. Lee, MD, one of ASCO’s Health Policy Fellows, participated as a Resident and Fellow Section delegate.
During the meeting, the HOD elected ASCO-backed candidate, Barbara McAneny, MD, FASCO, MACP, as the first oncologist elected to lead the AMA. Dr. McAneny will assume the office of AMA president in June 2018, following a year-long term as president-elect.
ASCO’s delegates to the HOD led two meetings of the Cancer Caucus, which provides an important forum for delegates to address ongoing cancer-specific issues and to discuss ASCO’s position on key resolutions. In addition, ASCO’s delegates took part in the Specialty & Service Society Caucus – the largest caucus at the HOD—and the Pain and Palliative Care Council.
The HOD voted to approve several recommendations and policies supported by the ASCO delegation and relevant to the cancer care community:
- Prior authorization and utilization management review. Delegates voted to approve 21 principles for reforming prior authorization and utilization management for both medical and pharmacy benefits. The HOD also directed the AMA to continue to advocate to oppose the abuses of prior authorization and the ensuing negative impact on patient care.
- MACRA implementation. The AMA HOD approved recommendations and policies to help physicians prepare for the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), including recommendations to reduce the barriers to adoption of alternative payment models (APMs). The HOD also directed the AMA to advocate for the use of scoring adjustments for high-risk patients within the MACRA program.
- Access to health insurance. Delegates also affirmed several principles relating to access to health insurance, including preservation of the current ban on pre-existing condition limitations, elimination of annual and lifetime coverage caps, and maintenance of guaranteed renewability. These echo many of ASCO’s principles for health reform, which were released earlier this year.
- Opioid Addiction and Pain Management. During the meeting, many delegates of the HOD shared their concerns on the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic across the United States. To ensure pain management doesn’t go overlooked as the medical community considers the opioid epidemic, the HOD voted to convene a new AMA task force to focus on pain management, including physician education, pain research, and greater treatment options for pain. The new task force will complement the activities of the existing AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse.
Read an ASCO in Action Brief for more information on ASCO’s work with the AMA.
Read Dr. Balaban’s column in ASCO Connection on his experiences as a delegate to the HOD.
Continue to follow ASCO’s advocacy work to improve cancer care by bookmarking ASCO in Action.