The Daily Rise: Monday, May 23

CMS Proposal Harms Seniors

Public comment may have closed on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Medicare plan to slash Medicare reimbursement rates for cancer treatments, but that hasn’t slowed down the growing opposition to the plan.

Dr. Julie Vose, M.D., the president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology — the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer — took to the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer to explain how the proposal “will hurt seniors.”

“Physicians who provide cancer care strongly oppose the initiative,” Dr. Vose writes. “We urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to scrap it in favor of comprehensive payment reform based on years of work by my organization and many others in the cancer community.”

The plan to slash reimbursement rates for doctors will make it harder for smaller practices and community clinics to operate. Dr. Vose says that current Medicare reimbursement rates are often below cost. These “underwater” drugs are a common problem “for smaller oncology practices, which have less purchasing power and pay more for drugs.” And it’s only going to get worse under the CMS proposal.

“Oncologists will always put patients first,” she argues. “In practices with too many underwater drugs, we will still prescribe the appropriate treatment. Many patients, though, will be forced to go to hospitals to receive it. This is not a mere inconvenience; it can be a major disruption in care for older, critically-ill patients, especially if they live outside of a major urban center and have to travel longer distances for treatment.”

Congrats to Don Wright!

Another day, another marathon for our superstar Don Wright.

Over the weekend, Don completed his 96th marathon while on active treatment for cancer.  In just 6 hours and 40 minutes, Don completed the 2016 Fargo Marathon in North Dakota. Don Wright personifies what can be achieved with modern medical advances.

“There Is Hope After Diagnosis,” says Don, who previously ran the Fargo Marathon in 2006 and 2014. “I have been on a new combo treatment regimen for a number of weeks now, adding a new infusion that stimulates the immune system to the pill I’ve been taking all these years. I am very grateful for the incredible advances in medical innovation.”

Join us in Tweeting support for Don’s achievement. “Don Wright keeps cancer on the run. Thanks for showing us the power of modern medicine.

Finished marathon #96 in 6 hours 40 minutes @patientsrising @MLIWI Pic courtesy of inforum

Don’t Miss Tomorrow’s Briefing…

Do you think patients should be given the treatment they need when they need it?

We’ll be hosting a news briefing live in St. Louis addressing the impact of ICER’s “value” determinations for new multiple myeloma therapies along with the Alliance for the Adoption of Innovations in Medicine (Aimed Alliance) and the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI). It’s part of our effort to educate patients at tomorrow’s meeting of the Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council, the Midwest affiliate of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Research.

And if you can’t make it to St. Louis, we’ve got you covered. Our 11AM EDT  briefing will be streamed live online  to enable stakeholder participation. No advance registration is required.

Beyond the myeloma community, this briefing has widespread significance for stakeholders because ICER’s meeting signals the beginning of a multi-year effort to limit the utilization of targeted therapies for many cancers and hard-to-treat diseases.

Join us online live from St. Louis this Tuesday 10:00am CST / 11:00am EST to learn more about the attacks on your treatments.

State Spotlight: North Carolina’s Mental Health Taskforce

State governments are increasingly devoting more time and resources toward addressing the needs of patients with mental health issues. However, many of the existing mental health services are spread across different government agencies.

North Carolina’s solution: a Mental Health Task Force. Created last summer, the task force has recently proposed recommendations for additional transitional housing, case management, mental health first aid training, child crisis centers.

“Our goal is to improve collaboration between health care, justice and safety professionals using existing resources,” Gov. Pat McCrory says of the task force. “If we improve these linkages, we offer the best hand up to those in need – especially our young people.”

The task force is one of the first times that employees and departments from the state’s executive, judicial and legislative branches “have collaborated to develop comprehensive and strategic ideas.”

“I believe it’s been highly successful in a number of regards, one is that we have developed actionable recommendations that the task force believes in that legislatures are applauding and that the Gov. has ultimately led the way on,” said Rick Brajer, Co-Chair of the task force and Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

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