Allen Lichter, MD, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), stated at a meeting sponsored by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that Medicare should pay routine patient costs for people who participate in qualified clinical trials of cancer treatments. The issue of reimbursement for clinical trial participants has been controversial for years, of course. Sens. Connie Mack (R-FL) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) were scheduled to reintroduce their clinical trials bill in April. It creates a small demonstration program.
The IOM, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, will make a report on clinical trials reimbursement to the Health Care Financing Administration by September 30. It is ASCOs view that Medicare beneficiaries who have paid premiums and taxes should be entitled to expect coverage of their hospital and physician costs and routine diagnostic tests that would be administered regardless of whether the patient was enrolled in a trial, Lichter said at the IOM meeting.