Florida Cancer Specialists Joins Initiative To Stop Medicare Experiment on Cancer Drugs

Nation’s Largest Independent Oncology/Hematology Practice Opposes CMS Initiative to Test Alternative Reimbursement Plans

 

Fort Myers, FL – April 4, 2016……… Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS), the largest independent community oncology/hematology practice in the United States, is joining other stakeholders from across the healthcare continuum in raising red flags about a proposed plan by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to “experiment” with alternative reimbursement plans for medications covered under Medicare Part B. If implemented, the CMS proposal could change the way cancer patients receive treatment and restrict patient access to the newest, most advanced cancer treatments. Led by the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), a coalition of over 300 cancer organizations and other healthcare and advocacy groups has signed on to a letter to leaders in Congress urging them to stop CMS from instituting its plan.

FCS CEO Brad Prechtl said, "This so-called ‘experiment’ was ill-conceived and did not seek any input from the oncology community. It certainly is not in the best interest of our patients and, if implemented, could cause a shift away from community-based cancer care, where close to 70% of U.S. cancer patients are treated, and force patients to leave their doctor to seek treatment in a hospital setting, which will not only cost more for the patient, but also be more expensive for CMS, as well.”

Dr. William Harwin, Founder and President of FCS, added, “Modern cancer treatment is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Cancer is an extremely complex disease that requires individualized treatment for each patient, based on that person’s unique genetic profile. CMS clearly does not understand this fundamental precept. As an oncologist, I am extremely concerned that the proposed experiment could lead to restrictions on how a physician chooses to treat patients and could interfere with the sacred trust between doctor and patient.”

FCS Executive Board Member Dr. Michael Diaz, who also serves on the Executive Committee as Secretary of COA, explained, “Medicare beneficiaries represent some of our oldest and sickest patients and these patients often require that we try multiple prescription drugs and/or biologics before we find the ones that are most effective for that individual. Often two people with exactly the same type of cancer may not respond in the same way to the same drug or medication – so it becomes even more complicated at that point and may require several types of therapies before the most appropriate treatment is found. These vulnerable Medicare patients should not have to face mandatory participation in an initiative that may force them to switch to a less appropriate (and potentially less effective) treatment.”

Florida Cancer Specialists is urging its patients, their families, caregivers and friends – as well as the community at large – to get involved in this critically-important issue by contacting their Senators and Congressional Representatives and asking them to Stop the Medicare Experiment on Cancer Drugs! To take action – go online to CancerExperiment.org and fill out the form.