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Call to Action: Community Oncologists Propose 'Roadmap' to Reformed Payment System for Cancer Care; Quality Cancer Care Demonstration Project Will Create System, Enhancing Quality Cancer Care While Controlling Costs
Date:5/26/2009

WASHINGTON, May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) announced today that it has created the Quality Cancer Care Demonstration (QCCD) project, a landmark initiative to transform the payment system for cancer care. The QCCD will focus on patients covered by Medicare (approximately 45% of cancer patients), involving the collection of data and implementation of a patient-centric program that enhances quality cancer care while controlling costs.

"The need for healthcare reform is especially critical to cancer care. The increasing cost of drugs, declining Medicare reimbursement, and current financial crisis have created a 'perfect storm' that jeopardizes community cancer care, which 84% of Americans fighting the disease rely on," explained Patrick Cobb, M.D., president of COA and managing partner of Hematology-Oncology Centers of the Northern Rockies in Billings, Montana. "The Quality Cancer Care Demonstration project offers a means of moving forward immediately and an architecture for a solution to the current crisis in cancer care."

"There are many concepts being suggested on how to reform the healthcare payment system, but few tangible programs actually developed by medical practitioners, rather than policy wonks," stated Ted Okon, Executive Director of COA, "The Quality Cancer Care Demonstration project is a substantive program developed by oncologists over the past year to enhance the delivery of quality cancer care."

Crisis in Cancer Care

Though the U.S. has the best cancer care delivery system in the world, the system is now in first-stage crisis because Medicare has substantially cut payment for cancer drugs and essential services. Community cancer clinics have had to close satellite facilities and cut staff. Smaller clinics are struggling to operate and more will close.

Increasing numbers of Americans with inadequate or no insurance, including seniors unable to pay the Medicare 20% coinsurance, are foregoing cancer treatment. Oncologists are spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with patient financial issues, including trying to find ways of navigating the insurance maze and identifying drug and co-payment assistance for patients in need.

Quality Cancer Care Demonstration (QCCD) Project

Over eight months ago, COA convened a task force of community oncologists and medical policy experts to evaluate the crisis of community oncology and public and private payment systems. The months of evaluation, analysis and brainstorming resulted in the QCCD project, a two-phased Medicare demonstration project that will allow Congress to direct the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement the program. The project is designed to refine quality metrics and aligns incentives in the critical areas of cancer treatment planning and end-of-life care.

In two phases, the QCCD project first involves testing the metrics and reporting systems, and then involves the implementation of a performance program. The objective is to collect data to refine quality metrics and the reimbursement structure into a system that enhances quality cancer care while controlling costs.

COA has constructed a program that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) can implement through the current coding and data collection systems. COA will augment the collected data from practices that have deployed advanced electronic medical record systems. Additionally, COA will propose the QCCD to private payers in an attempt to launch a national initiative designed to enhance the delivery of quality, affordable, and accessible cancer care to all Americans.

"We must move forward aggressively to put the Quality Cancer Care Demonstration project into place, as an integral part of comprehensive healthcare reform," continued Mr. Okon. "We believe that this program can be initiated within six months, towards an eventual endpoint of evolving the payment system."

About Community Oncology Alliance (COA)

COA is a non-profit organization dedicated solely to community oncology. COA was founded by community oncology to advocate for patients and providers in the community oncology setting, where 84 percent of Americans with cancer are treated. In only six years of existence, COA has mobilized community oncology to become more politically active, and increased awareness on Capitol Hill about the community cancer care delivery system. Additionally, COA has brought together community oncology practices from across the country to share information in order to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the cancer care they provide to their patients. Currently, COA is working with the Congress in providing proactive solutions designed to protect the viability of the nation's cancer care delivery system and patients' access to quality, affordable cancer care.

The cancer death rate in the U.S. has declined due to earlier detection, the quality of treatment, and the accessibility of cancer care. However, according to the American Cancer Society, men still have an approximately one in two lifetime risk of developing cancer, with a risk of one in three for women. For more information, please visit www.communityoncology.org.


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SOURCE Community Oncology Alliance
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