At Team VivorCare, we talk a lot about survivorship at a systems-level: the ways in which our current healthcare system loses cancer survivors to the “Survivorship Gap,” and how we are not adequately prepared to manage the long-term care of a rapidly-growing population of survivors.
Last week, a piece of bipartisan legislation was introduced to tackle this exact issue: the Comprehensive Cancer Survivorship Act.
The Act, which was jointly introduced by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), is designed to “address gaps in survivorship care and develop desperately needed standards to improve the overall patient-centered quality of care and navigation needs that cancer survivors and their families experience.”
Areas of emphasis in the legislation echo some of our favorite topics to discuss at VivorCare: the need for more effective transitions from oncology to primary care; new approaches to survivorship care planning; and alternative payment models for comprehensive survivorship care.
Key pillars of the bill include (all language below drawn from the Act itself):
- “Care Planning and Transition: Provides coverage to address the transition to primary care to help survivors develop personalized treatment care plans, standardizes processes, and consolidates treatments to guide survivorship monitoring and follow-up care;”
- “Alternative Payment Model: Studies existing reimbursement landscape to develop an alternative payment model to ensure a coordinated approach to survivorship care across an episode of care;”
- “Navigation: Develops effective and comprehensive navigation services that emphasize the continuum of care, such as follow-up and health disparities and determinants, like food insecurity, housing, transportation, labor, broadband and telehealth access, and childcare;”
- “Quality of Care: Establishes grants to promote utilization of navigation, employment of risk-stratification, transition to primary care, utilization of care plans, potential use of at-home care, and better use of information technology for patient experience data;”
- “Workforce: Establishes workforce assistance grants to help survivors, their families, and caregivers when faced with a range of workforce challenges;”
- “Education, Awareness: Creates resources for survivors and health professionals to promote early detection, preventive care and help providers provide high-quality services.”
It is hard to overstate just how quickly things are moving in survivorship care these days: whether in policy, research, advocacy, or—in our case—the development of new care delivery models.
We will continue to post updates on the bill's progress here as part of our new series, "What's new in survivorship?," designed to keep everyone in the loop on the rapidly-evolving survivorship care landscape.