ASCO Value Framework: A Step Forward or Back?

With all the focus in the media on cancer drug costs, let alone within the oncology community, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has released its much-anticipated value framework.1 According to ASCO, it is “an initial version of a conceptual framework for assessing the value of new cancer treatment options based on clinical benefit, side effects, and cost.”2 The intent is to provide a tool for oncologists to “use with their patients to discuss the relative value of new cancer therapies compared with established treatments.”2

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Medicare Prescription Drug Premiums Projected to Remain Stable

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) projected today that the average premium for a basic Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2016 will remain stable, at an estimated $32.50 per month. (more…)

Medicare Turns 50: Will It Still be There 10 years From Now?

Medicare was signed into law on July 31, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson. Unlike ObamaCare, Medicare had broad bipartisan support. It is Title 18 of the Social Security Act. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is in charge, but the nuts-and-bolts administration is in the hands of regional private carriers. (more…)

CMS Urged to Ensure Access to High-quality, High-value Cancer Care for Medicaid Enrollees

On July 27, ASCO submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) on a proposed rule for amending standards related to Medicaid Managed Care (MMC) published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2015. The comments urge CMS to–among other recommendations–ensure that all Medicaid beneficiaries have access to high-quality, high-value cancer care. (more…)

Immune Systems Now a Major Focus of Cancer Treatment Research

Researchers are exploring patient-specific vaccines that would help the immune system fight wayward cancer cells.

Most of the time, it’s not the primary tumor that kills. It’s cancer that has spread.

It’s the immune system’s job to attack foreign invaders and keep you healthy.  (more…)

Rehab Before Cancer Treatment Can Help Patients Bounce Back

Cancer patients who do rehabilitation before they begin treatment may recover more quickly from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, some cancer specialists say. But insurance coverage for cancer prehabilitation, as it’s called, can be spotty, especially if the aim is to prevent problems rather than treat existing ones.

It seems intuitive that people’s health during and after invasive surgery or a toxic course of chemo or radiation can be improved by being as physically and psychologically fit as possible going into it. But research to examine the effect of prehab is in the beginning stages. (more…)

Recurrent Ovarian Cancer Patients May Have Hope

Gene therapy inhibited chemoresistant tumor growth in animal model

A gene therapy that delivers a protein that suppresses the development of female reproductive organs may improve survival rates in patients with ovarian cancer that has recurred after chemotherapy. Recurrence happens 70 percent of the time and is invariably fatal. (more…)

Possible Breakthrough in Ovarian Cancer at UNM Cancer Center

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A team of scientists at the UNM Cancer Center have discovered a possible breakthrough in treating ovarian cancer.

The team found an anti-inflammatory drug called ketorolac used to treat other things can also help ovarian cancer patients too. (more…)

GAO Report Concludes Prescribing Incentives Exist at 340B Hospitals

According to a report released July 6, 2015 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), hospitals that qualify to participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program by virtue of their serving a disproportionate share of low-income patients (340B DSH hospitals) had higher rates of per‑beneficiary Medicare Part B drug spending than non‑340B hospitals in 2008 and 2012.

340B DSH hospitals are but one category of covered entity eligible to participate in the 340B Program, which enables covered entities to purchase, at a discounted rate, covered outpatient drugs to be furnished to patients of the entity.  340B DSH hospitals are general acute care hospitals with a Medicare disproportionate share adjustment percentage greater than 11.75 percent that also meet certain other eligibility criteria. (more…)

Medicare Turns 50 But Big Challenges Await

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, has come a long way since its creation in 1965 when nearly half of all seniors were uninsured.  Now the program covers 55 million people, providing insurance to one in six Americans.  With that in mind, Medicare faces a host of challenges in the decades to come.  Here’s a look at some of them. (more…)