Though survivorship care plans are recommended for patients with cancer, adoption has been slow, in part, because the time required for physicians to implement these plans is not always reimbursed by insurance. Two congressmen, who are also cancer survivors, recognize the problem and are doing something to try to change that.
Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX), co-chairs of the Congressional Cancer Survivors Caucus, introduced H.R. 5160, known as the Cancer Care Planning and Communications (CCPC) Act. If passed, the bill would make cancer care plans more available to patients on Medicare by creating a billing code that would reimburse providers for their time and resources used to create the care plans.
“What they can bill for now is the face-to-face time to give the plan to the patient. But that doesn’t account for the behind-the-scenes teamwork that goes into crafting the plan,” Shelley Fuld Nasso, CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), said in an interview with Oncology Nursing News®.
Now, Nasso encourages patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates to call their local Congress member to vote “yes” on the bill.
The care plan would include information on the treatment a patient was given, including potential adverse effects (AEs) to look out for. Lee Jones, a patient-turned-advocate, explained that having such a plan would have been immensely helpful when he was going through cancer treatment. Jones was diagnosed in 2004 with stage 3 colon cancer, and then had half of his liver resected 2 years later.
“With the immunotherapy drugs that many people are getting these days, side effects are much more severe and complicated than those patients faced back in the day when they were just getting chemo,” he said.
Crafting cancer care plans is a crucial step in providing each patient with the individual care that is best for them. This can improve outcomes, according to Donald (Skip) L. Trump, M.D. FACP, CEO and Executive Director of the Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Virginia.
“The data show clearly that personalized and coordinated care leads to better outcomes—including longer survival,” he said in a press release. “Cancer care is more complicated—and successful; it is critical that physicians and patients be full partners in their treatment, that the overall plan of treatment and post-treatment care be fully developed and communicated. That’s what the Cancer Care Planning and Communications Act is promoting.”
Talk about this article with nurses and others in the oncology community in the General Discussions
Oncology Nursing News discussion group.