From November 13- 17, Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) delegates participated in the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD) Meeting, which was held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. AMA HOD is the principal policy-making body of AMA. It meets twice a year to discuss pressing issues and establish association policies.
During the meeting, delegates approved two ASCO-backed resolutions to improve cancer care:
- Home Infusion -- ASCO’s resolution updates AMA’s existing home infusion policy to discourage the use of home infusion for anti-cancer therapy unless emergency circumstances are present where the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. While the HOD amended the ASCO’s initial resolution, the final version is a positive step forward to protect patient safety that aligns with ASCO’s position statement on home infusion.
- Co-pay Accumulators – Co-sponsored by ASCO, the resolution commits AMA to developing model state legislation and advocating for the adoption of state and federal legislation to ban co-pay accumulator policies for all pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical devices, and medical equipment in state and federally regulated health plans. Co-pay accumulator programs have recently emerged as a form of payer-imposed utilization management, where payers no longer apply a manufacturer’s co-pay assistance to a patients’ co-pay or out-of-pocket maximum. This practice removes a safety net for patients who need specialty medications but cannot afford them, and could lead to poorer outcomes for people with cancer, as well as higher costs to the cancer care delivery system.
ASCO delegates also backed a new policy that recognizes structural and institutional racism as a serious threat to public health, the advancement of health equity, and a barrier to appropriate medical care. The new policy directs AMA to advocate for increased funding for research into risks and damages related to racism and how to prevent or repair them, develop educational programs specifically focused on addressing racism, and support development of policies to eliminate racism. This resolution aligns with ASCO’s ongoing effort to ensure equitable access to care and research for each and every patient.
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, FASCO. The society also has three alternate delegates to the HOD: Kristina L. Novick, MD, Steve Y. Lee, MD, and Erin L. Schwab, MD, MPH. Barbara L. McAneny, MD, FASCO, MACP, also joined the delegation in her role as AMA past president.
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