This new department summarizes current congressional activity relevant to the delivery of cancer care. Two bills recently introduced in the House of Representatives are designed to improve the quality of care for cancer patients on the Medicare program.
Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act of 2006
Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Tom Davis (R-VA) introduced HR 5465, "to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of comprehensive cancer care planning under the Medicare Program and to improve the care furnished to individuals diagnosed with cancer by establishing a Medicare hospice care demonstration program and grants programs for cancer palliative care and symptom management programs, provider education, and related research."
Of primary interest to oncologists is that HR 5465 would establish a new Medicare service for the development of:
•A treatment plan at the beginning of primary therapy and communication of the plan to the patient
•A cancer care summary and follow-up care plan at the end of primary therapy and communication of it to the patient.
The legislation, supported by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), other national patient advocacy groups, and many US cancer centers, also includes provisions to improve symptom management and palliative care for patients undergoing cancer treatment.
Medicare Early Detection of Cancer Promotion Act of 2006
HR 5437, introduced by Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL), would eliminate coinsurance payments for mammograms and colorectal screenings for Medicare beneficiaries. Currently, Medicare provides coverage for breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancer screening tests, for which the beneficiaries must provide a 20% co-payment.