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ASCO State/Regional Affiliates: A Year in Review

Dec 20, 2012

While ASCO represents oncologists on the national level, the Society’s state and regionally based affiliates represent the needs of this constituency on the local level. Aligning ASCO’s resources for the common good of oncologists is one way to influence the ever-changing face of health care. Recently, ASCO’s State/Regional Affiliates were invited to share the latest accomplishments and upcoming priorities of their local organization.


Alabama Cancer Congress (ACC)

Throughout 2012, the ACC has continued to communicate with and provide education for our 594 members who include individuals from radiation, surgical, medical, and neurological oncology practices, as well as residents, fellows, hematologists, mid-levels, nurses, radiation therapists, dosimetrists, pharmacists, administrators, and all types of business staff.

For the upcoming year, the ACC will be adjusting to the contract between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Eviti, which will suspend our members’ participation in the decision-making processes regarding pathways and the drugs our physicians can use. This will be a radical change for the ACC and our membership. Regardless, we look forward to continuing to build our Society and meet the educational needs of our members.

Florida Society of Clinical Oncology (FLASCO) 

Recently, FLASCO completed an end-of-life initiative supported by an ASCO State Affiliate Grant, which involved training mid-level providers on how to include advanced directives into discussions and how to provide supportive care for patients with metastatic cancer. In the summer of 2011, 11 mid-level providers (nurse practitioners, physician assistants (PAs), and clinical social workers) from Florida oncology practices participated in a one-day training program with palliative care specialists from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Florida.

The practitioners implemented—in to their individual practices—a program that incorporated a consultation visit with an advanced-directives discussion and supportive care directed by a quality-of-life assessment by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General tool. They then returned for a one-day session in the spring of 2012 during which they shared their experiences.

Most of the participants were able to implement this program in their practices and create palliative-care teams with collaborators from their communities. Further expansion of this program in the state is planned with the trained mid-level providers participating in additional training programs in 2013. We hope that programs like this will increase the availability of palliative care and advanced-directives discussions for patients with metastatic cancer.

Idaho Society of Clinical Oncology (ISCO)

In order to help revitalize the Society, ISCO brought on a professional manager for our team. We also established a new Board with representatives from seven parts of the state that are all hospital-based. We have made an active effort to recruit nurses, pharmacists, and administrators to join our membership to better round out the representation. We are proud to say that our first meeting had all Board members and hospital systems represented, with 84 attendees and 22 pharmaceutical representatives.

In addition, ISCO led the efforts to get Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) audits stopped for same-day pegfilgrastim injection and started building a relationship with Blue Cross of Idaho.

In 2013, ISCO will continue to work with, and collaborate where possible, with Blue Cross of Idaho’s Chief Medical Officer and our Noridian Medical Director. We will build up the different parts of the Society to truly represent all the oncologists in the state on reimbursement and other relevant issues.


Louisiana Oncology Society (LOS)

The Board and Executive Director of LOS formed a strong relationship with the Chairman of the House Committee on Insurance, Representative Greg Cromer. The Society took the lead on a successful oral parity legislation that was authored by the Chairman and 62 co-authors. The legislation passed through the necessary committees and Congress without any “no” votes.

In addition, for the third year in a row, LOS successfully kept oral oncolytics off the Medicaid Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee formulary.

Looking forward to 2013, LOS intends to increase membership and build stronger partnerships between academic, hospital-based, and community-based oncologists.

Maryland/District of Columbia Society of Clinical Oncology (MDCSCO)


The year 2012 was a very active one for MDCSCO. We expanded the scope of our events, as well as increased participation. We now have the Legislative Dinner in January, the Practice Managers' Meeting in March, the Hot Topics Forum in April, the ASCO Update in June, and our Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting in October. Attendance at the general meeting ranged between 70 and 80 people. It is most gratifying to see a major uptick in participation by physicians, as well as allied oncology professionals. In addition, we were quite pleased to take the lead of a coalition that resulted in the passage of the Kathleen A. Mathias Oral Chemotherapy Act of 2012.

In 2013, we will focus on membership development. We will continue to recruit individual physician members but also put forth a major effort on building institutional and large practice memberships. We have expanded our membership to include other oncology professionals such as navigators, nurses, PAs, practice managers, and pharmacists. We believe that this move will make us a more credible organization.

Medical Oncology Association of Southern California (MOASC)

MOASC’s most important undertaking in 2012 was the creation and development of the MOASC Contracting Network (MCN) with Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. The MCN represents 164 California medical oncologists in developing new contracting and financial relationships with payers, promoting clinical integration, and enhancing the quality and cost effectiveness of the medical care provided to patients with cancer. MCN is currently in high-level discussions with several of the prominent payers in California and is hoping to sign contracts in the near future that allow MCN physicians to participate in shared-savings arrangements that will reward physicians for improving the quality and cost effectiveness of the care they provide to cancer patients.

In 2013 MOASC will continue to support community oncology in California throughout the many educational, purchasing, and contracting initiatives presented by the Society to its members.

Michigan Society of Hematology and Oncology (MSHO)

In 2012, MSHO convened a meeting of Michigan’s payers and purchasers of health care to explore the payment reform of oncology services and discuss the oncology medical home model. The Community Oncology Alliance provided background and a national perspective on the adoption of the oncology medical home model principals. We included the perspectives of providers, private payers, and current pilot projects. We were gratified by the spirited exchange of concerns and ideas surrounding appropriate processes, procedures, and metrics for the best practices in caring for oncology patients. The discussion among all attendees was candid and open to moving ahead with more collaboration toward some uniform definitions and expectations from all sides. There is a great deal of work to be done to reach measurable reforms in the delivery of care, but we feel the Society provided a safe, trusted environment to foster discussion of advancements in cancer care.

In the upcoming year, our Society will work with our newly contracted government affairs consultant to chart a strategic legislative agenda in response to Michigan’s health care exchange format and the possible conversion of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to a mutual company rather than not-for-profit entity (removing PA 350 coverage mandates). The agenda will also address the reintroduction of oral parity legislation and the updating of compendia coverage regulations.

We are also looking at ways to bring Michigan payers to agree on defining, supporting, and rewarding quality initiatives in a more uniform manner.

Mississippi Oncology Society (MOS)

Celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2012, MOS looked to invigorate our Society by hiring a professional manager to assist in our revitalization. We successfully recruited four new Board Members in their 30s and 40s. In addition, for the past several months, we have been planning our MOS Oncology Nursing Conference, which will take place January 25 and 26, 2013, at the Whispering Woods Hotel and Conference Center in Olive Branch, MS. We hope the conference will further involve nurses in the Society and allow our members an opportunity for furthering their education.

Jump starting 2013 with the MOS Oncology Nursing Conference, we are looking forward to the New Year. Our Board and staff will be continuing to recruit new members, and we will be working to pass oral parity legislation in our state.

New Mexico Society of Clinical Oncology (NMSCO)

The New Mexico Society of Clinical Oncology has been very active this year. We held a successful educational event on cultural sensitivity that was funded by a Conquer Cancer Foundation grant from ASCO. The training event was held on November 3, 2012 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM. A medical anthropologist was one of the many presenters. Addressing the issues of cancer in different cultures requires sensitivity, and background information on how the cultures view cancer is fundamental. Attendance of the event was good; the seminar was recorded via video and will be archived for future viewing on NMSCO website at nmsocietyoncology.org.

In addition, we have been actively working to assure that the 340B Drug Pricing Program is used for its intended purposes—to help eligible healthcare organizations care for medically underserved patients. We will continue to advocate for the appropriate use and administration of this federal program.

Northern New England Clinical Oncology Society (NNECOS)

Membership growth of more than 80% to a record 345 active and associate members attests to the value of NNECOS membership for cancer-care professionals in Northern New England in 2012. The NNECOS Collaborative Improvement Network (CIN), formed in April 2010, continued to share the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative® data between eight practices across our region, bringing about improved compliance with many of the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative standards. The CIN program was presented as an abstract at the first-ever ASCO’s Quality Care Symposium in San Diego in December.

In April of 2012, NNECOS was awarded a $10,000 Conquer Cancer Foundation grant to integrate palliative care into routine oncology practice. In July, members of our CIN began to introduce new tools, processes, and caregiver educational programs to improve the care given to patients with metastatic cancer. In October, NNECOS hosted a half-day educational symposium called Finding the Words: Integrating Palliative Care into Oncology Practice. Led by nationally recognized palliative-care expert Dr. Tony Back and aided by local palliative-care physicians, oncologists and other allied health professionals were trained in interactive role-playing scenarios with patient actors. The objective was to practice the skills necessary to bring about a change in how providers “find the words.”

As NNECOS looks ahead to 2013, our focus will be a continued emphasis on collaboration and sharing of experiences and best practices. As part of this process, we will submit a manuscript for possible publication in an edition of the Journal of Oncology Practice devoted to quality improvement. This manuscript will describe our CIN and how it has been functioning over the past several years.

Our work on our palliative-care grant project will continue in 2013, an effort led by Dr. Andrew Hertler. Recognizing the tremendous commitment necessary to bring about the change required to integrate palliative care into routine oncology practice, NNECOS will continue its program of monthly palliative-care—case conferences within the practices participating in our CIN. We will also host a minisymposium at our spring meeting in May and are contemplating a fall 2013 full-day palliative care symposium similar to the one we conducted in 2012.

Oklahoma Society of Clinical Oncology (OSCO)

OSCO is proud to say we are now the leader of an 18-organization coalition working to pass oral parity legislation in the next Congressional session. With our executive director facilitating the undertaking, we are looking forward to passing the legislation in 2013. In addition, we are prepared to continue working with a very fractured state and its highly-competitive market with independent cancer centers, small independent practices, hospital-based oncologists, and academia.

Society of Utah Medical Oncologists (SUMO)

We are excited to announce the best turnout ever for our large fall conference in Park City, UT. In addition, this year we assisted in passing carve-out legislation that allows oncologists to physician dispense. The Society also partnered with ISCO and other

states to get several RAC audits stopped for the 17-state HealthDataInsights RAC Region D. Lastly, we increased the number of Board members and practices represented in our membership.

Looking towards 2013, we are working to pass oral parity legislation. We will continue to reach out and recruit other specialties besides medical oncology as members and meeting attendees. We look forward to partnering with other states on upcoming projects in the future.

Washington State Medical Oncology Society (WSMOS)


In 2012, the WSMOS undertook several important initiatives including the growth of our Society membership, increased engagement with public and private payers, and advocacy efforts on national and local issues.

Our greatest accomplishments in 2012 include the following:

  • A 300% growth in Society membership
  • Our successful influence on the proposed National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health/state workplace-safety legislation on drug handling through the appointment of WSMOS Board Member, Dr. Jon Britell, to the Hazardous Drug Advisory Committee for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
  • Addressing the Neulasta RAC audit issue in collaboration with other Medicare Administration Contract Jurisdiction F (MAC JF) state societies, ASCO, and Noridian Administrative Services (NAS), resulting in a favorable article published by NAS
  • The improved dialogue with third party payers (e.g., Regence, NAS, and the Department of Social and Health Services).
  • The election of WSMOS Board Member, Dr. Jeffery Ward, to Chair of the ASCO Clinical Practice Committee
  • Hosting the second MAC JF Jurisdictional Caucus—attended by state society representatives from the MAC JF states and Dr. Bernice Hecker, Noridian Medical Director, MAC JF.

Priorities for the WSMOS in 2013 include educational and advocacy efforts focusing on the implementation and ramifications of the Affordable Care Act in our state and the World Health Organization’s tenth revision of International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.

West Virginia Oncology Society (WVOS)

The WVOS, from its inception in August 2008, identified a need for greater access to and participation in cancer clinical trials. Of the 18 clinical cancer practice sites in West Virginia, five of these sites actively participate in cancer clinical trials creating the opportunity to expand access to other sites.


To explore the feasibility of expanding clinical trial access, two West Virginian cancer clinical-trial leadership sites developed a pilot Clinical Trial Network (CTN) with four community oncology practice sites in 2009. By 2010, the pilot CTN had accrued over 70 patients to cooperative group cancer-treatment clinical trials who would otherwise not have been accrued. These efforts were supported by a 2010 ASCO State Affiliate Grant, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and a Benedum Foundation Grant.

Encouraged by the success of the pilot CTN, the WVOS engaged Oncology Solutions, a health care consulting firm, to assist the Society in building consensus among its members for a statewide cancer CTN. To date the WVOS accomplished the following: (1) reviewed promising national models for creating a statewide clinical trial network; (2) established a Clinical Trial Workgroup; (3) developed a financial pro forma for network operations; and (4) created a business plan to guide the network. Oncology Solutions estimates that West Virginia has a total of 11,416 potential accruals (newly diagnosed patients and existing patients). If the network can achieve the American College of Surgeons’ high standards of 6% accrual, a total of 685 West Virginia patients can benefit from WVOS efforts.

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