ASCO in ActionASCO in Action regularly provides the latest news and analysis related to cancer policy news; see the following online articles. These updates provide snapshots of ASCO’s ongoing advocacy efforts, as well as opportunities for ASCO members and guests to take action on critical issues affecting the cancer community.

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November 16, 2018

On December 5 from 4:00-5:00 PM ET, ASCO will host the latest installment in its webinar series on the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). This webinar, 2019 Medicare Reimbursement -- Final Rules Update, comes as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released its final rule outlining reimbursement changes to the MPFS, Quality Payment Program (QPP) and Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS)  for 2019.

November 16, 2018

Effective January 1, 2019, Medicare is instituting new opioid prescribing policies that will impact Medicare Part D beneficiaries with a prescription drug benefit and their prescribers. Major changes are summarized below; for additional information please see the full Medicare Learning Network article.

November 15, 2018

The MNGHA-Cancer Center in Saudi Arabia, the first in the Middle East, has joined seven other practices in Brazil, Greece, Romania, and Spain in achieving ASCO’s Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) Certification.

November 12, 2018

In the latest ASCO in Action Podcast, ASCO CEO Dr. Clifford A. Hudis reviews the results of ASCO’s 2018 National Cancer Opinion survey, which examined the views held by Americans on a wide range of cancer-related issues.

November 9, 2018

Update: ASCO’s resolutions on step therapy, Medicare Part B drugs, a Competitive Acquisition Program (CAP), and clinical trial access were adopted or reaffirmed by the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates, as well as an ASCO-backed resolution on Qualified Clinical Data Registries (QCDRs).

November 9, 2018

On November 9, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA, Merck & Co., Inc.) for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have been previously treated with sorafenib.

November 8, 2018

On November 8, 2018, ASCO and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) held a meeting with key stakeholders with the goal of developing consistency and harmony among clinical practice guidelines for pain control in individuals with cancer-related pain, as well as to address the critical pain management needs of patients with sickle cell disease. 

 

November 5, 2018

On November 2, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to lorlatinib (LORBRENA®, Pfizer, Inc.) for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease has progressed on crizotinib and at least one other ALK inhibitor for metastatic disease or whose disease has progressed on alectinib or ceritinib as the first ALK inhibitor therapy for metastatic disease.

November 5, 2018

Leaders from the ASCO State Affiliate Council met to discuss pressing issues in oncology, including drug pricing, Medicaid work requirements, changes to the Medicare physician fee schedule, and the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

November 2, 2018

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and Quality Payment Program (QPP) outlining reimbursement changes for  2019. CMS estimates that the overall impact will be a one percent reimbursement cut for the hematology/oncology and radiation/oncology specialties in 2019. Based on feedback from ASCO, significant changes were made, which helped to avoid an overall four percent reduction for the specialty. However, it is important to note that the actual impact on individual physician practices will depend on the mix of services the practice provides.

November 2, 2018

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its 2019 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) final rule. An initial evaluation of the rule found that CMS finalized provisions cutting Medicare reimbursement for certain visits to hospital outpatient clinics and to extend 2018 cuts to the 340B Drug Pricing Program.  

November 1, 2018

On October 29 and 30, the initial sessions of the full six-month Quality Training Program are being held in Madrid, marking both the first time the program has been licensed outside of the U.S. and conducted in Spain. 

October 30, 2018

Nearly four in 10 Americans believe cancer can be cured solely through alternative therapies, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s second annual National Cancer Opinion Survey. This is despite research showing that patients who use alternative therapies instead of standard cancer treatments have much higher mortality rates. The survey also found that amid the ongoing opioid crisis, nearly three in four Americans are opposed to limiting access to opioids for people with cancer, and many cancer patients report difficulty obtaining these medications. In addition, just as many Americans say they are worried about the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis as about dying of cancer, with caregivers and rural Americans bearing the weight of cancer’s financial and access challenges. The National Cancer Opinion Survey is a large, nationally representative survey conducted online by The Harris Poll.

October 30, 2018

On October 30, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA®, Merck & Co. Inc.) in combination with carboplatin and either paclitaxel or nab-paclitaxel as first-line treatment of metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

October 26, 2018

On October 25, 2018, CMS released the International Pricing Index Model for Medicare Part B Drugs, an advanced notice of a proposed rule that, if implemented, would establish a pilot program to test ways to lower the costs of drugs. Provisions in the proposal include benchmarking some part B drug prices against other countries and changing how providers get paid for administering drugs to patients. The proposal marks the most sweeping changes the Administration has put forth to implement the President Trump’s “blueprint to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs.”

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