The Hill Online “Physician Payment Reform Matters to Cancer Patients”
Proposed Reforms Could Improve Quality of Care
NCCS advocates for recommendations that could benefit cancer patients and the Medicare program
As advocates for quality cancer care, we at NCCS have urged changes to the Medicare payment system to improve the care of Medicare beneficiaries with cancer. A bipartisan proposal developed by committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate recommends two Medicare reforms that are critically important to cancer patients who depend on Medicare for their care. In an opinion piece published online in The Hill this week, NCCS CEO Shelley Fuld Nasso expressed support for the proposal and suggested some refinements that would ensure cancer patients have access to care planning and coordination.
First, the draft bill repeals the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. This action relieves cancer patients and other Medicare beneficiaries of the fear that their care will be interrupted as a result of steep cuts in Medicare physician payment due to application of the SGR formula. Second, the draft legislation moves the Medicare physician payment system toward a quality-based system of payment and away from a system that rewards the volume of services provided. Together, these two changes will foster the delivery of quality care to cancer patients.
As our supporters are aware, NCCS has long championed the establishment of a cancer care planning service in the Medicare program. The development and communication of a solid plan of care for each cancer patient will encourage coordination of care, foster quality, and honor the cancer care wishes of the patient. The reform proposal includes new Medicare codes for the management of complex chronic diseases. NCCS will continue to advocate that those codes cover the development of cancer care plans. The legislative proposal would transition to a value-based payment system and alternatives to the current fee-for-service system over a decade. We believe that cancer care planning during this transition period will not only benefit patients; it will benefit the Medicare program.
In her article in The Hill, Fuld Nasso applauded the work of the committees to promote a quality Medicare system and to protect its long-term viability. NCCS also submitted comments to the committees, explaining our support and suggested changes in more detail. We are hopeful that with some additional refinements to the package, the needs of cancer care patients will be more fully addressed.