ACTION ALERT: Cancer Care Under Threat in Debt Ceiling Negotiations! Please Call Now!

14 Jul 2011 7:39 AM | Lori Aubrey (Administrator)


As you have likely seen in the news, Congress must vote to increase the debt ceiling by August 2nd.  Negotiations between Congressional Leadership and the President are ongoing and are focused on achieving significant spending cuts.  The negotiators are now considering a reduction to cancer care in the form of a cut to the Average Sales Price (ASP). This would be a devastating blow to cancer practices that are already struggling in these tough economic times.

Chemotherapy drugs, like all drugs under Part B of Medicare, are paid at 106% of ASP.  Many chemotherapy drugs are already “underwater” meaning that the current Medicare payment is insufficient to cover the cost of the drug.   Negotiators are now considering a 2% reduction to 104% of ASP, costing Medicare and cancer patients roughly $3 billion over the next 10 years, and exacerbating the underwater drug problem and restricting access to important treatments for cancer patients in their community.

ASCO, along with the Community Oncology Alliance, US Oncology and other organizations have sent letters to the President and debt negotiators opposing these cuts. In order to prevent this reduction from being part of the final debt ceiling package, it is imperative that you also weigh in with your Members of Congress immediately. 

Please call your Representative, Senators and the President as soon as possible and urge them to oppose this reduction to cancer care.  You can find contact information and instructions on the ACT Network by simply entering in your zip code. If you don’t have time to call, please send an email, it will only take a minute to ask your legislators to oppose these cuts.

Here are some talking points to guide the discussion:

  • Tell them where you practice, how many patients you treat and how many staff you employ
  • Tell them how a reduction to ASP will exacerbate the problem of underwater drugs in your practice and how it will negatively impact your patients.
  • Ask your Representative and Senators to contact the debt ceiling negotiators and urge  them to oppose reducing the amount that is reimbursed for chemotherapy drugs (ASP) by Medicare. Ask the President to remove the ASP provision from consideration.

    If your member is one of the following please be aware that they are one of the few negotiators at the table: Eric Cantor (R-VA), John Boehner (R-OH), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

    If you have any questions, please contact ASCO's Cancer Policy and Clinical Affairs Department or 571-183-1670.


    Northern New England Clinical Oncology Society
    P.O. Box 643
    Sandown, NH 03873-0643
    Telephone (603) 887-1948

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