In Letters to President-Elect Biden, ASCO Urges Action on Cancer Care and Research Priorities

December 8, 2020

On December 8, the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris urging quick action on cancer priorities to increase equity in cancer research and care. Outlined priorities include:

  • Ensure access to critical therapies for cancer patients by enacting reasonable and consensus-based drug pricing reforms. ASCO urges the incoming Administration to reverse the mandatory, nationwide “most favored nation” demonstration project and instead work with ASCO and other stakeholders toward reform that can both lower spending and guarantee patients have access to the therapies they need.
  • Require Medicaid coverage of routine care costs for patients on clinical trials to ensure all patients have access to potentially life-saving treatments and to increasing the validity of all research. The letter notes that this could be achieved through the passage of the bipartisan CLINICAL TREATMENT Act or through regulatory action at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
  • Protect the sanctity of doctor-patient decision making by reining in inappropriate utilization management protocols. Specifically, the letter calls on the incoming Administration to reverse the use of step therapy policies in Medicare Advantage plans and to pursue regulatory action to protect patients from unnecessary delays in care by streamlining and standardizing prior authorization under the Medicare Advantage program.
  • Support robust funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to spur the United States’ recovery in the wake of the economic consequences of the ongoing public health emergency and generate new treatments and better health for all Americans.

ASCO has also signed onto coalition letters with other stakeholder groups to share the broader cancer community’s priorities with President-elect Biden and his transition team. The list of coalition efforts below will be updated over the next few months to reflect the full scope of ASCO’s collaborative efforts:

  • Memo from One Voice Against Cancer coalition– Asks the incoming Administration to work with Congress to provide steady, significant funding increases for NIH, NCI, and cancer programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help address health disparities through research, overcome the impact of COVID-19 on cancer research, and adequately meet the extraordinary demand for NCI grant funding. Such demand for NCI grant funding reflects the continued possibilities for progress and innovation in cancer research.
  • Letter from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research – Urges President-elect Biden to support a robust increase in funding for the NIH’s baseline budget as well as emergency supplemental funding to allow the NIH to continue making progress against COVID-19 while ensuring that efforts to combat the pandemic do not displace other essential avenues of discovery.

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