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ASCO Report Spotlights Care Costs, Uneven Access

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN
Again this year (2016), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has released its report on the state of cancer care in the United States. The report recaps progress, such as the FDA’s approval of 15 new drugs and treatments, along with expanded use of 12 previously approved drugs. This past year also marked the introduction of biosimilars. Cancer incidence and mortality remains higher than desired, and continue to vary substantially by race and ethnicity. Cancer treatment has increasingly become complex, and cancer research continues to be underfunded.

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded access to health insurance for millions of Americans, many remain un- or underinsured. The cost of drugs, uneven implementation of the law, and other access barriers have placed optimal cancer care out of reach for many. In addition, people with insurance face rising deductibles and increased out of pocket costs.

The oncology workforce remains stable despite growth in the demand for cancer care. ASCO notes that small community practices may not be able to remain independent. Oncologists continue to practice mostly in urban areas, which limits treatment options for patients in rural areas. The medical home model of care delivery is driving multidisciplinary care, and electronic medical record implementation and use was cited as a major concern by practicing oncologists.

ASCO generated a number of recommendations, such as evaluating new payment and care models, payment reform, and initiatives to identify high-value cancer care strategies. Insurance companies also need to provide consistent appropriate benefits and services for people with cancer.


American Society of Clinical Oncology. The State of Cancer Care in America, 2016 [published online ahead of print March 15, 2016] J Oncol Pract.
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