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For Immediate Release: March 6, 2005
Lee E. Mortenson, DPA, to Receive Association of Community Cancer Centers' Progress Award for Distinguished Service
Innovator and advocate of community access to clinical trials and multidisciplinary cancer care for patients with cancer to be honored
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Lee. E. Mortenson, DPA, who is retiring as Executive Director of the Association of Community Cancer Centers, will be honored with the Association’s Progress Award. The award is given in recognition of his more than three decades of service to the oncology community. Thanks to Dr. Mortenson’s efforts, the community cancer provider has emerged as an equal partner with university-based comprehensive cancer centers in the war against cancer.
The award will be presented to Dr. Mortenson on Friday, March 18, 2005, at the Awards Luncheon during the ACCC’s 31st Annual National Meeting at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, in Alexandria, Va.
"We forget that even into the mid-1980s,” said Dr. Mortenson, “the question of whether quality cancer care could be delivered in a community setting was being debated."
Throughout the 1970s, Dr. Mortenson sought to dispel the myth that community physicians were uninterested in and incapable of participation in state-of-the-art cancer care. He brought together key oncology leaders to form the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), which would become the mechanism through which clinical protocols and other oncology standards of care were developed and disseminated to community cancer programs across the nation.
Dr. Mortenson and ACCC were determined to build a new approach to community cancer care that would involve the whole multidisciplinary team: physicians, administrators, nurses, social workers, data managers, pharmacists, and advocates.
"Thirty years ago the idea of a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care was revolutionary," said Dr. Mortenson. “Then, surgeons dominated cancer care and medical oncologists and radiation oncologists were viewed as interlopers with much to prove. Integrating the cancer care team would take more than a decade.
Under Dr. Mortenson’s guidance, ACCC helped develop a model of what a multidisciplinary community cancer center might look like. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, community hospitals were forming dedicated oncology units, which became the hub of multidisciplinary cancer care. From this unit the oncology team began to form. The oncology inpatient unit would also foster the participation of oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, nutritionists, pastoral care givers, and other disciplines.
With the advent of new reimbursement systems and the growth of managed care, site of care for most cancer diagnoses would shift to the more economical outpatient hospital setting and to physician practices in the late 1980s early 1990s, made possible by a wave of innovation in cancer therapies and treatment. Keeping the multidisciplinary aspect of oncology care intact in all treatment settings would become Dr. Mortenson’s priority.
Throughout his career, Dr. Mortenson has promoted the need for community cancer programs to be able to access clinical research to better serve their patients.
"Given questions about the ability of the community to deliver quality cancer care, the idea that community oncologists should participate in clinical research was at first controversial," said Dr. Mortenson.
Dr. Mortenson was steadfast in calling for increased government funding for the National Cancer Program to increase research opportunities for community cancer programs across the country. He helped organize an effective network of community oncologists to educate their representatives in Congress about community cancer care issues. Led by Dr. Mortenson and ACCC, hospitals across the country began to apply for planning grants in their communities.
These early efforts resulted in a number of crucial gains for community oncology. In 1975 NCI initiated the Community Oncology Program (COP), an early precursor to the Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP). The COP was designed to fund communities that would then pool their resources to develop community cancer centers.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Mortenson was a guiding force at ACCC. Among his many accomplishments:
- Language developed by Dr. Mortenson which the House Ways and Means Committee adopted in the 1998 Balanced Budget Refinement Act (BBRA) and which increased funding for hospital outpatient chemotherapy, supportive care and radiopharmaceuticals, all of which were underpaid in the original BBA.
- His language was also adopted by 38 states, Medicare and Medicaid for the payment of off-label drugs.
Dr. Mortenson's research studies on the effects of APCs on oncology and administrative reductions in AWP reimbursement were widely cited as the key studies used by Congress to make important decisions in favoring oncology drug reimbursement in 1999 and 2000, overturning administrative actions proposed by the Health Care Financing Administration.
As Executive Director of the Association of Community Cancer Centers, Dr. Mortenson has worked directly with members of Congress, the White House, and the Federal agencies. He also worked closely with the leadership of all the major cancer organizations, assisting in the coordination of 50 state and national cancer organizations as they attempt to secure input into key statutory and regulatory processes. He was senior editor of the bimonthly journal Oncology Issues, and is a founding partner of the National Dialogue on Cancer. Dr. Mortenson has chaired national advisory panels for two of the nation's largest pharmaceutical firms involved in oncology.
Dr. Mortenson is also President and Chief Executive Officer of ELM Services, Inc., an oncology consulting company in Rockville, Md. As a nationally recognized consultant, Dr. Mortenson has assisted university and community cancer programs over the past quarter century with all aspects of program development. He has written dozens of research grants for university and community cancer centers, including successful NCI planning grants, program projects, epidemiology/biostatistic center grants, cancer control grants, clinical research grants and contracts and Core grants. Three-quarters of the successful initial CCOP grants were developed and written under Dr. Mortenson's supervision.
The author of more than three dozen books and monographs on health care financing, cancer programs, cancer control and product line management, Dr. Mortenson has authored one hundred thirty papers in a wide variety of journals, including publications as diverse as the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Business and Health, and The Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Mortenson has received the US Oncology Medal of Honor Award and was honored by the Oncology Nursing Society receiving ONS’s highest award for a non-member, their Honorary Membership Award. He also has joined the Boards of the National Patient Advocacy Foundation and the Patient Advocacy Foundation.