Webinar Recap: The Impact of 340B Reimbursement Cuts on AACI Cancer Centers

Since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement cuts to the 340B drug pricing program went into effect January 1, AACI has been advocating to protect the program. CMS slashed what Medicare pays 340B hospitals for many oncology infusions and other physician-administered drugs, reducing reimbursement rates by nearly 30 percent. As a result, several AACI cancer centers have eliminated jobs, suspended faculty recruitment, and cut back on important educational programming. Among those hit hardest by the cuts are cancer centers and safety-net hospitals that care for low-income and rural patients, compounding cancer health disparities in the U.S.

As a continuation of its ongoing advocacy efforts, AACI hosted a webinar on Friday, September 14, titled “The Impact of 340B Reimbursement Cuts on AACI Cancer Centers.” Featured presenters were Jeff Davis, senior advisor and of counsel at Baker Donelson; Cheryl L. Willman, MD, CEO and director of University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNMCCC); and Sandra F. Durley, PharmD, senior associate director of ambulatory care pharmacy services at UI Health. AACI Deputy Director Jennifer Pegher moderated the webinar.

Following a detailed overview of the 340B program and its original intent from Mr. Davis, Dr. Willman described the negative repercussions of 340B program cuts she has already encountered at the UNMCCC.

“The excellent outcomes that we desire for our patients require access to clinical trials and many new cancer treatment modalities,” said Dr. Willman. “These include precision medicine, genome sequencing, targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and new experimental therapies – often of an exceedingly high cost.”

Through robust data, Dr. Durley described the financial impact on UI Health, where, she pointed out, oncology-related purchases accounted for 52 percent of 340B spending in Fiscal Year 2018.

She also shared moving patient stories, including that of I.H., an uninsured 30-year-old-man who was able to receive $5,700 worth of medication to treat acute myeloid leukemia for only $20, thanks to 340B discounts and the Medication Assistance Program.

“I wanted nothing more than to get well,” I.H. said. And he did: I.H. is still in remission today.

More than 80 participants—including cancer center directors, administrators, finance officers, and clinical trials office managers—tuned in to the webinar, which is just one facet of AACI’s advocacy efforts to preserve the 340B program.

AACI is still collecting responses to its 340B Impact Survey. And we encourage member centers to participate in our advocacy efforts by writing op-eds, contacting their state’s Senators and Congressional representatives, sharing social media posts using the hashtag #Protect340B, and submitting their comments to CMS by Monday, September 24. Please contact AACI for sample op-eds and supplemental educational resources on the program.

Download the webinar slides.
Download the audio recording.

Pictured (left to right): Jeff Davis, Dr. Cheryl L. Willman, Dr. Sandra F. Durley  

 

 

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Monthly Links Roundup: July 2018

This month, we announced that Richard and Susan Rogel would receive AACI’s inaugural Champions for Cures Award, which recognizes individuals who lead and support efforts to cure cancer and inspire others to do the same.

The award will be presented to the Rogels in recognition of their $150 million gift to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, which was renamed Rogel Cancer Center in their honor.

During the most popular vacation time of the year, we shared sun safety tips for UV Safety Month.

We brought attention to sarcoma—often described as “the forgotten cancer”—for Sarcoma Awareness Month.

AACI’s 10th Annual CRI Meeting was held July 11-12.

Dr. Cheryl L. Willman, CEO and director of University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, encouraged AACI members to continue advocating for the Congressionally-mandated 340B drug pricing program, which is currently at risk due to a CMS rule introduced in January 2018.

Coming up in August:

  • World Lung Cancer Day
  • National Breastfeeding Month
  • National Immunization Awareness Month
  • Summer Sun Safety Month 

 

CMS Reimbursement Cuts to Cancer Centers Threaten Access to Lifesaving Cancer Treatments for Underserved Patients

Willman

Cheryl L. Willman, MD

On January 1, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a new rule that significantly reduces reimbursement to hospitals and the vast majority of cancer centers that participate in the Congressionally-mandated 340B Drug Purchasing Program. The new CMS rule (82 FR 52356) went into effect without Congressional approval and despite strong bipartisan objections from legislators in both chambers of Congress, the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), and a large majority of cancer center directors from NCI-designated and emerging academic cancer centers. The rule disproportionately harms those hospitals and cancer centers that provide care for the most vulnerable and underserved cancer patients, compounding the nation’s tremendous cancer health disparities.

Established by Congress in 1992 with strong bipartisan support, the 340B Drug Pricing Program requires drug manufacturers to sell drugs at discounted prices to hospitals and cancer centers that provide a disproportionate share of care to low-income, rural, poor, and underserved patients, to have their drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid. The Congressional intent of the 340B Drug Pricing program is to allow hospitals and cancer centers to reinvest their savings from these drug discounts to assure patient access to high-quality care and lifesaving cancer treatments, and to develop comprehensive services.

The new CMS rule drastically reduces Medicare Part B reimbursement rates for drug  purchases to hospitals and cancer centers participating in the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Under the new rule, CMS reimbursement for drug purchases has decreased from the prior rate of Average Sale Price (ASP) plus 6 percent, to ASP minus 22.5 percent, resulting in a cut of $1.6 billion per year to the nation’s public safety-net hospitals and cancer centers. This cut fully eliminates the benefit of the 340B drug pricing program to participating cancer centers. Despite claims by CMS and the drug industry, the new rule does not lower drug prices, save money for Medicare or for seniors, or reduce patient co-pays. In fact, the cost of lifesaving cancer drugs is predicted to increase significantly.


Read more from Dr. Willman, CEO and director of the University of New Mexico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, in AACI’s July 2018 Commentary