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The US Oncology Network Government Relations Team: Providing Policy Analysis & Strategic Advocacy for Community Cancer Care
Community oncology practices today face an increasingly complex web of government rules and regulations that can often inhibit practice success or viability. This complexity is having a direct impact on access to quality cancer care. Eleven years ago, when I began my journey with The US Oncology Network (The Network), nearly 88% of all cancer care was delivered in the outpatient community setting. Today that figure is closer to 50%. This migration away from the community setting has a measurable impact on the healthcare ecosystem as hospital care is much more expensive for patients and payers. Conversely, helping community practices flourish is beneficial not only to patients and independent providers, but also to other key stakeholders in the cancer community. In today’s “value-driven” environment, it doesn’t make sense to continue enacting rules and regulations that accelerate this shift to the more expensive, less coordinated setting.
The Network Government Relations Team Is Hard at Work Protecting Community Cancer Care
Not only does The Network provide services and technologies to enhance clinical and business operations for practices, we also advocate on behalf of community oncology on the federal, state and regulatory levels. Our Government Relations and Public Policy Department is dedicated to federal policy issues and state legislative matters. The team combines years of Capitol Hill experience with a deep and diverse healthcare policy background. Our primary mission as thought leaders is to craft new policies that benefit community oncology or analyze proposed policies to determine what impact it could have on practices in The Network. We then formulate a strategy and respond appropriately on behalf of the practices, often engaging them directly.
We also act as the voice of The Network when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) roll out regulations and payment rules, evaluating each proposal, submitting formal comments to CMS and following up with meetings. This year, we assisted in drafting formal comments on four separate federal rules which were submitted on behalf of The Network’s physician led National Policy Board. These comments covered a wide range of topics including provider rates, consolidation, pharmacy coverage, radiation therapy and the 340B drug discount program. You can stay up to date on our efforts by visiting legislink.com.
Practices can look to us for support in the public policy arena, such as:
- Legislative and policy insight – from the moment an issue is first conceived until it is defeated or enacted
- Arranging for physicians to directly engage with key decision makers to make their voice heard
- Assisting physicians in testifying before Congress or state legislatures on behalf of The Network
- Coordinating site visits to practices for members of Congress, giving them a firsthand look at the challenges practices face, and
- Managing The Network Political Action Committee (PAC) comprised solely of physicians and leaders in The Network, in a bipartisan effort to support legislators who support community cancer care
Make Your Voice Heard
Our goal is to help influence public policy by effectively strategizing, advocating and educating to ensure decision makers truly understand the impact of what they are putting into law. It is vitally important for practices to regularly engage with their local elected officials when things are going right, so their opinions will be respected when things go awry.
The Network public policy team can play a key role in helping practices develop and execute a thoughtful, multifaceted strategy that positions them as thought leaders and problem solvers in today’s challenging environment.