Future COVID-19 Legislation Must Protect Patient Access to Cancer Care

April 28, 2020

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) joined hundreds of other health organizations in signing onto four separate letters to Congress regarding future COVID-19 legislation as part of an effort to ensure patient access to high-quality, high-value cancer care during the pandemic. The four comment letters address different areas of cancer care delivery system:  

  • The American Medical Association letter outlines the financial concerns that physicians and patients are struggling with during the pandemic. Specifically, the letter urges Congress to expand the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, update the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, and provide direct financial support to help sustain physician practices, among other recommendations.
  • The Cancer Care Community letter addresses the lack of access to care for patients with cancer and the financial burden they are facing during the pandemic by asking for a special enrollment period for healthcare.gov, additional funding and flexibility for federally run clinical trials and increased payments to states for Medicaid programs among other important policy changes for patients.
  • The Step Therapy letter urges Congress to include guardrails on the use of step therapy protocols in Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, Medicaid Managed Care, and ERISA health plans.
  • The Coalition to Improve Access to Cancer Care letter urges Congress to include the Cancer Drug Parity Act (H.R. 1730) in the package. The bill would ensure that patients who transition to oral chemotherapy treatments, to avoid potential COVID-19 exposure at an infusion site, pay similar out-of-pocket costs as patients on intravenous treatments.

Development of additional COVID-19 related legislation by Congress is ongoing. ASCO will continue to work to ensure that the needs of cancer patients and the cancer care team are addressed.

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