Cancer Organizations Urge Federal Intervention to Improve Access to Cancer Care for Patients Impacted by Hurricane Maria

December 22, 2017

On December 19, ASCO, along with the Florida Society of Clinical Oncology and the Puerto Rico Hematology-Medical Oncology Association, sent a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to urge intervention so patients with cancer who have been impacted by Hurricane Maria receive ongoing and continuous access to care.

The letter explains that many patients with cancer from Puerto Rico have sought shelter from the effects of the storm and established relationships with oncologists to continue their cancer treatment on the mainland of the United States. However, approximately 40 percent of the Puerto Rican population is covered by the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Without appropriate waivers or regulatory flexibility for these patients, many may be unable to receive care.

CMS has already issued some waivers providing regulatory relief, but the three organizations say more is needed to ensure patients have access to critical cancer care.

The organizations urge CMS to:

  1. Implement temporary relief to protect access and ensure adequate funding to serve displaced individuals with cancer.
  2. Immediately implement and clarify an approach to provide state Medicaid and CHIP programs with additional resources so that patients affected by the storm have access to ongoing cancer care.

Read the full letter.

Learn more about resources available for cancer care providers and patients affected by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and other natural disasters.

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