Judith Alberto: COA Takes on Congress, Addresses Change Healthcare Cyberattack

Judith Alberto, MHA, RPh, BCOP, director of clinical initiatives at the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), discusses upcoming policy initiatives and the current oncology landscape amid a health care cyberattack.

The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) is aligned with keeping patient care in the hands of the community pharmacies and practices, and it is important that these organizations stick together to achieve the best quality of care, says Judith Alberto, MHA, RPh, BCOP, director of clinical initiatives, COA.


On May 8, COA members and their patients will have an opportunity to meet with their members of Congress and their staff to discuss bills that make it easier to access cancer care. Can you tell us what COA’s priorities will be for this day?

Yes. So, the Stark law will be a priority for our Hill day on May 8, as well as PBM [pharmacy benefit manager] bills that are currently being looked at. We really want to keep patient care in the hands of their community pharmacies and their community practice. So, we'll be educating those in Congress and on the Hill on what the Stark law is, what kind of impact that has, and hopefully we'll have patients with us who can talk firsthand to their struggles and what they're experiencing.

Where does COA stand on the Change Healthcare cyberattack right now?

We've been really hitting this hard with all our representatives. We've been in Washington, DC, we've been having discussions with CMS, we've been reaching out to individual MACs [Medicare administrative contractors] to make sure that they are affording practices the time and the resources that they need to recover from this. Whether it's switching MACs, whether it's extensions and different kinds of reimbursements in their claims, really having the support of GPOs [group purchasing organizations], the government, and everybody who's involved in this claim processing, to just give a little bit of leeway to these practices while they struggle with their resources to still be able to provide while they're not getting reimbursed on their claims.

Just in general, I think that the whole theme of this conference is [we're] stronger together. And really in all the questions that we've talked about today, we're stronger together. So as a team-based approach with the patient in the middle of care is how we can accomplish overcoming cancer and making the journey for the cancer patient more accessible, and just a better overall experience with high-quality cancer care.

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