Since 1974, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) has been a leading education and advocacy organization in US oncology. Its membership includes more than 650 cancer programs, 250 physician-group practices, and thousands of nurses, pharmacists, and administrators. Cancer Care & Economics (CC&E) recently spoke with Christian Downs, JD, MHA, executive director of ACCC, about some of today's more challenging cancer care issues.
CC&E: Does the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) have a solid working relationship with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)?
MR. DOWNS: Yes, we've been working with ASCO for the past 5 or 6 years, both on the staff level and on the volunteer or member level. ACCC is an institution-based organization, and a lot of the leaders in ASCO are also members of ACCC.
CC&E: What current regulatory issues are most important to the members of your association?
MR. DOWNS: Our interest in regulatory issues from an advocacy standpoint is really twofold: patient access to therapies and quality cancer care initiatives. Both issues are impacted by the current political environment.
For instance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a payment reduction for drugs given in the hospital outpatient setting from ASP + 6% to ASP + 5%. Obviously, we were very concerned about how that would affect patient access, since most of the hospital-based programs administer the drugs that CMS considered cutting to ASP +5%.
Consequently, these drugs would wind up being under-water [reimbursement less than cost] at the hospital outpatient departments. In effect, the hospitals would lose money on Medicare beneficiaries, at least from a drug administration standpoint. Naturally, if hospital-based programs operate at a net loss on drugs, they will have to look at ways to cut costs, which might affect access to quality cancer care. We don't want to see that happen. Fortunately, thanks, in part, to our advocacy, CMS stayed with ASP + 6% in its new rule.