ASCO Urges CMS to Withdraw Flawed Medicare Part B Demo in Formal Comments

Statement by ASCO President Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO
May 10, 2016

In comments submitted yesterday to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the American Society of Clinical Oncology underscored the urgent need to advance a more fair and responsible payment system for oncology than what is proposed in the ill-advised Medicare Part B proposal.

Although we agree that the current Medicare payment system is fundamentally flawed, ASCO opposes reforms that are not comprehensive and urges CMS to withdraw an experiment of this magnitude without first understanding its potential impact on patient care. We are particularly alarmed at the proposal’s failure to describe patient protections, including mechanisms to avoid adverse consequences of mandating nationwide participation. 

The CMS proposal is particularly ill-suited to the delivery and treatment of cancer care, which is complex and highly personalized to each patient, and offers limited opportunity for a physician to choose between two interchangeable, equally efficacious drugs—the very scenario under which the demo seeks to influence physician prescribing behavior. This experiment will not address individual drug prices—as  physicians do not set these prices—and will hinder patient-centered care and access to services.

Finally, the Part B Model ignores promising work that has the potential to yield comprehensive reforms and achieve CMS’s stated goals.  ASCO has labored for more than a decade to support oncology practices in the delivery of high-quality, high-value oncology care, including its  Patient-Centered Oncology Payment model, Clinical Oncology Pathways statement, CancerLinQ, Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI), and the ASCO Value Framework .

We believe this work can provide the seeds of a comprehensive healthcare delivery and payment system that will support high-quality, high-value oncology for all individuals facing life-threatening cancers. ASCO looks forward to working closely with CMS and other stakeholders to address the complex issues involved in transforming cancer care in the United States.


Read ASCO’s comments to CMS on the ASP Demo.