Patients and cancer care providers should not suffer from election-year politics, especially during a global pandemic.
The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) is extremely concerned by news reports about ongoing drug price negotiations between the White House and pharmaceutical manufacturers proposing solutions that would upend the nation’s cancer care system in the middle of a global pandemic. Playing election politics with a fragile cancer care system as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (novel coronavirus) crisis is nowhere near over is simply dangerous and puts some of the most vulnerable Americans at risk.
Today, patients are still facing difficulties accessing cancer care and screenings in hospitals that are overrun battling COVID-19. Fortunately, our nation’s independent community oncology practices have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep their facilities and clinical staff COVID-19 free in order to provide uninterrupted, safe cancer care to patients during this unprecedented global crisis.
Preliminary Medicare data from an ongoing Avalere analysis of cancer care trends during the COVID-19 pandemic show up to a 70% reduction in new patient visits, a 59% reduction in established patient visits, and 75% reduction in hospital outpatient visits in April 2020. While the study is still underway, the ongoing analysis clearly paints a picture of a cancer care system that has overwhelmingly stalled in hospitals as resources have had to be diverted to COVID-19, as well as patient hesitancy to visit hospitals for cancer care due to COVID-19–related concerns.