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For Immediate Release: August 30, 2005
Leaders of Nation's Cancer Hospital Programs and Oncology Practices to Gather for ACCC's 22nd National Oncology Economics Conference
How will Hospital Outpatient Departments and Physicians Survive and Thrive in an Ever-changing Economic Environment?
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Leaders from the nation’s hospital-based cancer programs and oncology practices will gather at the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ (ACCC) 22nd National Oncology Economics Conference, September 13-16, 2005, to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing cancer care. The meeting will be held in Portland, Oregon.
"In 2006 regulatory changes in Medicare drug reimbursement to hospitals could dramatically affect the services available to patients with cancer," explained ACCC Executive Director Christian Downs, JD, MHA. "The viability of small oncology practices may also be threatened. The proposed Medicare cuts to physician payments for services could negatively impact patients who receive treatment for cancer in the physician office."
ACCC’s meeting will explore the rapidly changing reimbursement issues and evolving coverage policies that affect the delivery of quality cancer care. Experts will address practical strategies for dealing with financial constraints on physicians and cancer programs and provide insight into new technologies and safety issues.
Here are meeting highlights:
How hospital outpatient departments can thrive in an era filled with uncertainty. Policy experts examine how hospitals will be affected by the implementation of Medicare’s proposed new 2006 payment methodology. Hospitals will receive an additional 2 percent over payment for select drugs to cover pharmacy overhead and handling costs associated with drug administration. Analysis will reveal whether this 2 percent is really enough to cover costs. Why shouldn’t the add-on apply to all drugs?
The viability of oncology practices. Although drug administration costs remain relatively stable from 2005 to 2006, payment rates for all physicians’ services are reduced 4.3 percent under the proposed 2006 Physician Fee Schedule. Physicians will face new challenges and difficulties resulting from this reduction—coupled with the elimination of the 3 percent transitional payment and revenue from the Medicare Replacement Drug Demonstration Project. How will they—or should they—respond?
Navigating the labyrinth of coverage issues created by the new Medicare Part D benefit. Starting Jan. 1, 2006, Medicare Part D coverage begins for beneficiaries who have enrolled in the optional drug benefit. Oncology care providers will face a number of billing complexities given the significant overlap between drugs covered under Part B and those covered under Part D. How will physician prescription and treatment patterns change? How will clinic pharmacies be affected? What new powers are bestowed upon pharmacy staff? How will Part D handle new drugs, such as cancer vaccines, and off-label issues?
The impact of recent off-label policies on physicians’ ability to provide cancer care. Expanding participation in clinical research will help advance cancer care and treatments. New Medicare policies, however, may slow down the adoption of new drug regimens and services available to patients. Policy experts examine whether a data collection effort proposed by Medicare will, in fact, result in improved patient care and how the proposed Medicare guidance on this issue may affect physician off-label use of anticancer therapies.
In addition to economic and regulatory issues, ACCC will present sessions on the present and future of cancer care in both hospitals and practices:
New technologies: genomics risk assessment. Increasingly, community-based cancer programs are offering genetic risk assessment services to help patients make important healthcare decisions. Individuals who test positive for genetic mutations may be able to extend their life expectancy, reduce their cancer risk through targeted chemotherapy, and educate their family members about the likelihood of a family mutation. Learn about the present and future of cancer genetics risk assessment.
The nexus of patient safety and quality. Developing a culture of safety and reliability is key to quality cancer care. Rodger J. Winn, MD, of the National Quality Forum in Washington, DC, joins a panel of experts to explore the challenges cancer programs face as they monitor events that put patients at risk and work to improve procedures. Learn about systems in the infusion unit that capture “near misses” and document a plan for corrective action.
Evaluating new radiation oncology equipment. Fascinating technologic innovations in diagnostic radiology are helping to advance earlier colon and possibly lung cancer detection, enhance efficiency and patient throughput, improve staging, and, ultimately, direct more effective treatment strategies. Should community cancer centers spend the extra money to acquire these new technologies? More importantly, will patients truly benefit in improved survival?
Electronic medical records. With physician and staff pushback, high start-up expenses, extra resources, and a lengthy selection process, EMR adoption is not a simple process. Here’s a look at what’s new in electronic medical records and how practices are streamlining the EMR selection and implementation process.
Award luncheon and presentation. On Friday, Sept. 16, ACCC will present its annual clinical research award to Charles L. Loprinzi, MD, professor and chair of the Division of Medical Oncology at Mayo Clinic Rochester. Dr. Loprinzi will be recognized for his extensive clinical research activities, particularly in the area of prevention of symptoms related to cancer and cancer therapy. He has devoted many years of service with the North Central Cancer Treatment Group, and has shown dedicated leadership and service to the oncology community.
Roundtable discussions. ACCC has expanded its ever-popular small-group discussions where attendees brainstorm with and benchmark against other cancer programs. Among the topics are “Improving Clinical Trial Accrual,” “Operational Issues for Cancer Program Administrators,” “Nursing Staffing Models,” and “Reimbursement Challenges for Oncology Practices.”