Newswise — On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), I want to express our support for Dr. Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

As stated when Dr. Price was first nominated, we believe that Dr. Price’s perspective as the first physician to lead HHS in over two decades, will bring an important firsthand understanding of the challenges that America’s physicians face and the impact that Federal policymaking has on patient care.

During his time in Congress, Dr. Price was always responsive to, knowledgeable about, and supportive of community cancer care issues. He clearly understands the vital role that community oncology plays in our nation’s health care system and we look forward to a close working relationship with him and his staff.

As Secretary of HHS, Dr. Price will face the important task of ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable cancer care, which is physician-directed, in their own communities. This includes examining several ill-advised Medicare policies that have been enacted in recent years, which have increasingly threatened the stability of our cancer care system. Most notably is Medicare’s inappropriate application of the sequester cut to the underlying cost of cancer drugs. This policy has cost seniors and Medicare billions of dollars in unnecessary costs each year and has helped fuel a dramatic consolidation of our cancer care system.

COA and community oncology are completely committed to making oncology payment reform succeed for all. We must focus on enhancing the quality, efficiency, and affordability of cancer care for patients, Medicare, and private insurers. In contemplating any policy changes, COA believes that it is extremely important that patients have access to quality cancer care, regardless of pre-existing conditions and with protection from annual and lifetime insurance caps, so that lives are not devastated paying for the increased cost of cancer care.

COA also very much looks forward to working with Seema Verma, as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and hopes for her speedy confirmation by the Senate. We are particularly interested in advancing the Innovation Center’s (CMMI) oncology payment and delivery reform initiative, the Oncology Care Model (OCM). COA has dedicated significant resources to helping oncology providers and payers succeed in implementing the OCM, but are very concerned, at this time, that the OCM requires attention and significant changes in order to make it viable.

There are many challenges in cancer care, but COA believes that by working together in a cooperative spirit we can overcome any hurdles.

Jeff Vacirca, MDCEO, NSHOA, a division of New York Cancer & Blood SpecialistsPresident, Community Oncology Alliance

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