The AMA House of Delegates (AMA-HOD) convened a few days after the ASCO Annual Meeting. It was, in many ways, a continuation of many of the concerns reviewed at the annual ASCO gathering.
The delegation representing ASCO is now composed of ASCO staff, along with Drs. Thomas Marsland, Ray Page, Kristina Maletz, and myself. Dr. Barbara McAneny has now assumed the role of Immediate Past Chair of the AMA Board of Trustees.
The topics, in a lot of ways, dovetailed into some of the daily practice issues discussed at various forums during the ASCO meeting. The Resolutions and Reports, like always, were broad with some more pertinent to oncology than others. For instance, ASCO cosponsored a successful resolution to modify the Value Based Modifier (VBM) cost attribution in regards to “all” drugs (Part B and D). This resolution (entitled “Value Based Modifier and Flawed Cost Attribution”) centered around the concern that as the VBM becomes front and center in 2017, it will place physicians and patients in the position to choose therapies based on VBM penalties for one drug versus another.
ASCO was also very vocal against a resolution to eliminate “incident to” charges by citing the value of physician supervision (this resolution was eventually referred for further study). We supported developing reimbursement policies for survivorship programs, as well as “end of life” counseling. We also spoke strongly in support of issues such as developing obesity education programs, e-cigarette regulations, and keeping “pain as the fifth vital sign” intact. These highlighted the main topics we focused on; however, many more discussions drew our comments throughout the weekend.
In addition to the Reports and Resolutions, the House acknowledged the good work that led to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) repeal, but also understands the challenges ahead. The Cancer Caucus driven by ASCO has developed traction. More and more interest in cancer-centered topics has prompted a larger audience and more participation by growing number of organizations. This is all long overdue. We look forward to growing that caucus into a much more effective and influential body within the AMA-HOD.
In summary, our delegation has grown, our presence in the House of Delegates has grown, our professions concerns have grown, and subsequently our societal influence has grown. It’s good to grow.