REGARDING HOSPITAL OUTPATIENT
Dear Mr. Scully:
The undersigned organizations, representing cancer patients, providers, and researchers, are writing to express our concerns about potential reductions in outpatient prospective payment system reimbursement for cancer drugs, biological agents, and brachytherapy devices and for innovative drugs, biologicals, and medical devices. If significant payment reductions for breakthrough products are implemented, as suggested by your agency in the proposed 2002 update to the outpatient prospective payment system, access to quality cancer care in the outpatient setting may be at risk. We urge restraint in adopting such payment changes.
Congress intended that pass-through payments be available to ensure patients access to important cancer drugs, biologicals, and devices and to certain new therapies. We were distressed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) suggested that substantial reductions may be applied to pass-through payments in 2002, because such cuts may have a serious impact on the quality of care for cancer patients and others with serious and life-threatening illnesses. CMS indicated that it has constructed an extensive database on which it will base decisions about pass-through payments. Because the agency did not share the data it has collected, we cannot comment on whether the warning regarding 2002 payments is warranted.
We urge that CMS collect
and make public the data on pass-through payments. We also recommend that
any potential reductions in the rate of pass-through payments be delayed
until all interested parties -- including patients and their health care
providers -- have adequate opportunity to evaluate and comment on the
data and proposed changes. This is a matter of great consequence to the
cancer community, and we recommend that CMS proceed with deliberation
and with the full participation of those who will be affected by reimbursement
changes. We share the goal of a payment system that assures access to
quality health care.
Alliance for Lung
Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education
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