The Future of Cancer Care: Change Is the Only Certainty

Conference Correspondent - AVBCC 2019 Summit

By its very nature, oncology is rife with change, with new research resulting in treatment advances at a rapid pace. Those in the cancer care field are bracing themselves for even more change as the future unfolds, particularly in light of pending legislation aimed at reining in prescription drug prices and an upcoming presidential election. A discussion on these matters closed out the AVBCC Summit with a look ahead at the oncology landscape.

Mike Kolodziej, MD, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at ADVI Health, queried his fellow panelists about what the future holds if a Democratic president is elected.

“Community oncology practices can’t survive in the Medicare for All world,” he said. “Community oncology would cease to exist.”

Agreeing with Dr Kolodziej, Jeffrey Patton, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Tennessee Oncology, said Medicare for All is not economically feasible. Cliff Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO, Chief Executive Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, pointed out that most of his patients are Medicare beneficiaries and said he does not think Medicare for All will come to fruition. Medicare for all who want it, on the other hand, seems more feasible, he said.

“Buying in is very different from dismantling private insurance,” Dr Hudis said.

Still, he added, although many in the United States may deride the idea of socialized medicine, if any of them tried to run a campaign in Europe on the platform of dismantling it, they would not be received well.

“I do think we’re going to see more change in the next 3 to 7 years than in the last 25 years combined,” Dr Kolodziej asserted.

William McGivney, PhD, Managing Principal of McGivney Global Advisors, who moderated the session, pointed out that the fight over value in drug pricing will be playing out between bills in the House and Senate, along with the International Pricing Index model pitched by the Trump administration, as well as the established processes of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.

“There is no strategic plan, no mission statement, no vision for this thing,” Dr Hudis said, adding that the fundamental question remains of whether healthcare is a right or a privilege. “There’s no agreement to what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Dr McGivney asked the panelists whether they expected to see a plan take shape over the next 15 years that would make real changes to the current drug-pricing model.

“Congress is so divided that neither side wants the other to get a win,” Dr Patton said. “We can’t afford to keep going in the same direction we’re in as a society.”