The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is holding its annual Advocacy Summit Week of Action from April 15-19, during which ASCO members are encouraged to connect with their Members of Congress about policies and legislation that impact cancer care and research. Participants (and state society members) may visit the ACT Network to contact their lawmakers and urge them to take action on the following issues: 

  • Help end drug shortages by acting to address the economic factors that drive generic manufacturers out of the market, reward reliable U.S. manufacturing of critical and supportive medications, recognize potential shortages earlier by increasing the Food and Drug Administration's visibility into the supply chain, and relay information about potential shortages to health systems and providers earlier to help them prepare for and mitigate possible supply challenges. 
  • Support federally funded cancer research by providing robust funding for the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency Health for fiscal year 2025. 
  • Permanently expand telehealth flexibilities in Medicare by cosponsoring the CONNECT for Health Act (S. 2016 / H.R. 4189). The bill would permanently extend the telehealth flexibilities put in place for Medicare services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. 

The Week of Action will be held in conjunction with the annual ASCO Advocacy Summit, April 16-17, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. During the event, oncology care providers from across the United States will meet with Members of Congress and their staff to advocate for the Association's advocacy priorities.


The Importance of Advocacy

"The risk of not getting involved is that the most expert voices will not be heard. And then, the policies we have to live with won’t reflect what we know is best for our patients." 

Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO

ASCO Chief Executive Officer

DRUG SHORTAGES SIGN ON LETTER


ASCO has launched a sign-on letter entitled: “An Open Letter from America’s Cancer Doctors and Providers.” Our goal is to gather at least 463 oncologist signatures—one signature for every day since the current crisis began—to demonstrate the widespread nature of the situation across the country and to show the community’s overwhelming support for immediate action.

In addition to the letter, there will be a video with testimonials from doctors sharing the impact of shortages on their patients, a targeted advertising campaign, and additional communications efforts.

 


2024 State Legislation

VERMONT

VT H. 766 - a bill that would place limits on prior authorization, step therapy, and copay accumulator programs

Governor Scott signed an amended version of this bill into law on May 20, 2024. We are hopeful that, in the future, prior auth provisions can be expanded in Vermont beyond primary care. 

VT H233 - Vermont Becomes 21st State to Ban Co-Pay Accumulators

On May 30, Governor Phil Scott signed VT H. 233, a bill that requires co-pay assistance to count towards a patient’s deductible. NNECOS and Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) supported this measure and wrote a letter in support of this language when it was part of a different bill earlier in the session. Vermont is the 21st state to take action on co-pay accumulator programs.

 H. 766 will reduce prior authorizations, allow exemptions to step therapy, and simplify billing and other administrative burdens in health care. Please share stories about how reducing PAs can reduce healthcare costs by getting patients the right care earlier, reducing extra costs like referring patients to the ED and reducing staffing costs. 

Update: Senate - 4/23/2024 - P. 2700 - Action Calendar- Favorable report with proposal of amendment by Committee on Health and Welfare

Read the NNECOS/ASCO Joint Letter of Support

VT S. 98- concerned PDABs and UPLs could disproportionately impact oncology drugs and are particularly worried about a PDAB setting upper payment limits for physician-administered oncology drug

Read the NNECOS/ASCO Joint Comment Letter



NEW HAMPSHIRE

SB 354 - a bill that would prohibit health carriers in New Hampshire from utilizing co-pay accumulator programs and save patients with cancer on their out-of-pocket costs.

Read the NNECOS/ASCO SB 354 Support Letter


SB 458 - a bill that would allow for the dispensing of noncontrolled oral anti-cancer medication by a licensed healthcare professional legally authorized to prescribe and administer medications to a patient under a provider's care or supervision. 

Read the NNECOS/ASCO SB458 Support Letter

UPDATE: 2024-04-24 House Executive Session: 05/01/2024 10:00 am Legislative Office Building 210-211

MAINE

LD1577 - Expand Access to Biomarker Testing in Maine

Update 5/15/24 - Gov. Mills will not sign into law - read letter

5/10/24 - sent to Gov. Mills for signature - contact Gov. Mills

2024-04-11 - On motion by Senator ROTUNDO of Androscoggin PLACED ON THE SPECIAL APPROPRIATIONS TABLE pending PASSAGE TO BE ENACTED, in concurrence.

Update - the Legislature has adjourned without funding this Bill. Updates will be posted as available. 

Coalition Website: https://www.fightcancer.org/expand-access-biomarker-testing-maine

2023 State Legislation

NH Senate committee recommends making Medicaid expansion permanent

NH SB263

Vermont Fertility Preservation 

NNECOS - ASCO Joint Letter of Support - H369

H369 - An act relating to health insurance and Medicaid coverage for fertility-related services

VT S63 - An act relating to health insurance and Medicaid coverage for fertility-related services

NNECOS - ASCO Joint Comment Letter - VT S63



Federal Issues Impacting Cancer Care


2024 State Legislative Tracker is Live

(ASCO has transitioned its bill tracker to 2024, including all carry over bills. The tracker updates in real time and the link is available to both ASCO members and nonmembers. ASCO tags legislation relevant to cancer care—including prior authorization, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), step therapy, copay accumulators, fertility preservation, telemedicine, Medicaid expansion, and vaccines.

Current State Advocacy

Maine

12/15/23 - Comments on Revisions to Proposed 02-031 C.M.R. Chapter 865 Standards for Fertility Coverage

Maine - LD 1539

Maine Copay Fertility Preservation Bill Becomes Law

As session has adjourned, Governor Janet Mills signed Maine LD 1539, a bill providing

coverage for fertility preservation services for patients with cancer. With her signature,

Maine becomes the twelfth state to provide this coverage, with the law taking effect in 2024.


NNECOS / ASCO letter regarding LD 1539

Maine House Bill 1539 - Update 4/25/22 - sent to Governor Mills!

NNECOS and ASCO support important fertility preservation legislation in Maine. Select the thumbnail to read the letter sent to the Joint Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance & Financial Services in the Maine Legislature.

Update: On May 21, 2021, a request was submitted to carry over HB1539 to next year.


Maine - LD 1783

5/7/22 - LD 1783  becomes law without signature as Governor Mills declined to sign or veto the measure.

Maine joins Washington as the 2nd state to pass a copay accumulator elimination bill this year.

4/25/22 - sent to Governor Mills!

1/10/22 - NNECOS and ASCO send letter of support to Joint Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services regarding LD 1783: An Act To Require Health Insurance Carriers and Pharmacy Benefits Managers To Appropriately Account for Cost-sharing Amounts Paid on Behalf of Insureds. 

NNECOS Leaders Participate in ASCO's Virtual Advocacy Summit

Dr. Marie Wood (current NNECOS President), Dr. John Winters (NNECOS President-elect) and Dr. John Hill (past NNECOS President) participated in ASCO’s Virtual Advocacy Summit April 14, 2021, representing Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, respectively. Meeting with staffers from each of the Senate and Congressional offices, these NNECOS Board designees lobbied for support of our cancer patients in three legislative efforts under consideration:

  1. Telehealth Modernization Act (H.R. 1332/S.368), which would permanently remove the geographic and originating site restrictions for use of telehealth in Medicare, allowing more patients and providers to continue to benefit from telehealth after the end of the public health emergency.
  2. Safe Step Act (H.R. 2163/S. 464), which would create exceptions to potentially harmful step therapy protocols from private insurance plans so patients would be able to receive appropriate and timely care. This is an especially important piece of legislation for cancer patients who often require (and deserve) a personalized approach to the management of this devastating disease.
  3. Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (H.R. 869/S.289), which would provide $25 billion in emergency supplemental funding for a number of research agencies, including $10 billion for the NIH. More specifically, this would help close the widening gap that currently exists between R01 grant applications (the foundation of our national cancer research effort) and existing NCI funding, which currently covers only 10% of this important demand.

Each of these NNECOS participants welcomes the opportunity to serve as a resource for Senate and Congressional offices on any issues related to cancer, and they look forward to continued dialogue in the future.



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

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