NCCS commends the action of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in establishing two new Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes for cancer treatment planning and care coordination. The codes, for treatment planning and care coordination for initial treatment and a change of treatment regimen, will go into effect on April 1, 2012. The release of new HCPCS codes by CMS is a first step toward reasonable reimbursement of healthcare providers for the time and expertise they dedicate to treatment planning and care coordination for cancer patients.

“We at NCCS believe that a quality cancer care experience begins with development of a treatment plan and a patient-provider discussion of that plan,” said Ellen L. Stovall, a cancer survivor, long-time champion of care coordination, and NCCS health policy advisor. For a decade, a key NCCS public policy objective has been ensuring that cancer care planning and coordination services are provided to each and every cancer survivor. Such planning and coordination are critical to a system of patient-centered care, better management of cancer and cancer treatment side effects, and enhanced utilization of healthcare resources.

NCCS has a multi-faceted advocacy plan to make cancer care planning a service routinely provided by cancer care professionals to all cancer survivors. In the last four Congresses, NCCS has been championing the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act to establish a Medicare cancer care planning service NCCS has also cosponsored, with the Institute of Medicine, a workshop to identify strategies to facilitate provider adoption of cancer care planning. It has encouraged incorporation of cancer care planning as a quality measure for oncologists, and educated newly diagnosed and long-term survivors regarding the need for a cancer care plan.

“We often hear from cancer care professionals that the payment system does not acknowledge the time and skills required to develop and communicate a treatment plan that also serves to coordinate cancer care,” said Stovall. “NCCS will extend its education and outreach activities to third-party payers to encourage their use of the new HCPCS codes to reimburse for quality cancer care.”

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