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“ASCO in Action” Site Keeps Members Up-to-Date on Policy News, Facilitates Action

Dec 20, 2011

ASCO’s recently launched “ASCO in Action” site (asco.org/ascoaction)helps members stay abreast of public policy issues affecting the oncologycommunity and coordinates and facilitates responses to policymakers.The site could not have launched at a more critical time as oncologyprofessionals face unprecedented drug shortages as wellas significant potential cuts to Medicare reimbursement.

Fighting Medicare cuts
ASCO has been working tirelessly to stop proposed cuts to Medicarereimbursement for chemotherapy drugs and to repeal the SustainableGrowth Rate (SGR) formula, which threatens a close to 30% cutin physician payments for 2012, actions that have been highlighted,coordinated, and promoted on the ASCO in Action microsite and relatedcommunication vehicles.

—In September, the ASCO Government Relations Committee (GRC) met withmembers of Congress and their staff about threats to Medicare payment foroncology, reductions to funding for NIH and NCI, and the growing crisis of drugshortages. The GRC also hosted a special panel that included top Congressionalaides from both parties who foreshadowed policy proposals under considerationto control health care costs.

—In a September letter to the Joint Committee (“supercommittee”), ASCO andmore than 20 national advocacy organizations, community cancer care providergroups, and health care professional associations urged the committee not to recommendadditional cuts to Average Sales Price (ASP) as part of any final deficit-reductionplan.

—In October, ASCO along with 42 other physician groups sent a letter to theMedicare Payment Advisory Commission criticizing its plan to adjust the SGRpayment formula.

—In October, ASCO’s Clinical Practice Committee (CPC) members and state affiliateleaders visited 51 Congressional offices to explain what reductions to the ASPwill mean for patients and for long-term health care costs. CPC Chair RoscoeF. Morton, MD, explained, “When we look at Medicare alone, which pays for thetreatment of the majority of cancer patients, the closing of community practiceswill force at least 50% of cancer patients into more expensive care. A reductionto the ASP has a strong potential to significantly increase future costs.”

—On November 3, ASCO in Action collaborated with other cancer organizationsto conduct a “Virtual Fly-In,” a coordinated campaign to raise awareness of andoppose potential cuts to ASP reimbursement. The phone and email campaign wastimed to influence the Joint Committee.

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