At AMA Leadership Meeting, ASCO Advocates Will Urge Action on Cancer Policy Priorities

June 9, 2018

From June 9 – 13, ASCO’s delegates will participate in the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates (HOD). The AMA HOD is the principal policy-making body of AMA, and meets twice a year to discuss pressing issues and establish association policies. ASCO currently sends three delegates to the AMA HOD: Edward P. Balaban, DO, FACP, FASCO; Thomas A. Marsland, MD, FASCO; and Ray D. Page, DO, PhD, FACOI. The society also has three alternate delegates to the HOD: Kristina L. Novick, MD; Steve Y. Lee, MD; and Morganna L. Freeman, DO, FACP. ASCO’s Resident Fellow Section Delegate is Erin L. Schwab, MPH, BS, MD.

During the meeting, Barbara McAneny, MD, FASCO, MACP, will officially take the reins as AMA President, making her the first oncologist to lead the influential medical association. Dr. McAneny is a long-time ASCO volunteer, and previously served on the ASCO Board of Directors (2005 – 2008) and as a liaison to the AMA House of Delegates (2002 – 2013). She has also long been active in the AMA and is past chair and current member of the AMA Board of Trustees.

ASCO’s delegates will introduce several resolutions during the meeting, including:

  • Opioid Prescription Transfer: Patients with cancer are increasingly relying on electronic prescriptions for access to their opioid medication. However, since electronic opioid prescriptions are not transferrable between pharmacies, there is some risk that patients with a bona fide need for opioids will not be able be able to access needed medications due to shortages at hospitals or community pharmacies. The resolution calls on AMA to support legislation that would make it easier to transfer electronic opioid prescriptions.
  • Pharmacy Benefit Managers: As pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) play an increasingly prominent role in the health care system, their policies, like prior authorization requirements, step-therapy, specialty tiers, and other utilization management restrictions, have made it harder for patients to access necessary treatment. Providers have also expressed concerns that PBMs have led to drug wastage, errors, and an increasing time burden on medical staff. The resolution calls on AMA to gather more data on PBMs and the impact of their tactics on patient outcomes, timely access to medications, and the patient-physician relationship.
  • 340B Drug Discount Program: The 340B program requires manufacturers to provide substantial discounts for sales of covered drugs to eligible entities in order for the manufacturer to qualify for Medicaid reimbursement. Although outpatient oncology practices have been recognized as providing cost-effective care for patients with cancer, they cannot currently qualify at standalone entities under the program. The resolution would call on AMA to support reforms to 340B, including a change in eligibility for program participation.

ASCO delegates will also introduce resolutions to reaffirm existing AMA policy on the challenges associated with billing for survivorship care plans and the link between alcohol use and cancer.

Additionally, ASCO will lead the HOD's Cancer Caucus, which provides a forum to address oncology-specific issues that are either being discussed or should be discussed by the HOD.

Stay tuned to ASCO in Action for a recap of the meeting, updates on important policy decisions, and any potential impact on cancer care.