Since the passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, community cancer centers around the country have been struggling to balance the delivery of optimum care with an ever-tightening reimbursement climate. Cancer Care & Economics (CC&E) talked with the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) Manager of Provider Economics & Public Policy, Matthew Farber, MA, about the challenges of the upcoming year.
CC&E: Are there any changes in ACCC leadership for 2008?
MR. FARBER: Yes, at our annual meeting in April, Ernest R. Anderson, Jr., MS, RPh, will assume the ACCC office of president. Mr. Anderson is nationally acknowledged for excellence in healthcare and management during his 30 years of pharmacy practice. He will bring a deep understanding of oncology pharmacy issues to ACCC during a very challenging time. Mr. Anderson has twice been recognized as Pharmacist of the Year from the Massachusetts Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
CC&E: Is there a major reimbursement issue that ACCC is looking at for 2008?
MR. FARBER: On the hospital side, despite recommendations from the Ambulatory Payment Classification (APC) Panel, ACCC, and other key stakeholders, CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] lowered payment for separately paid drugs without pass-through status to ASP [average sales price] + 5%.
CMS believes that adequate payment for drugs is ASP+3%; however, in 2008, CMS will provide a "transition" year with payment at ASP+5%. We're working with CMS and legislators on Capitol Hill to raise the volume on this issue in the hope that we can get back to at least ASP+6%. We really believe that there should be reimbursement parity between the hospital outpatient and the physician-office setting. This is a major concern for us.
CC&E: Is pharmacy overhead on the hospital side another challenge?