2014 Community Oncology Conference Spotlights Stark Contrasts: Exciting Advances in Treatment and Payment versus Deeping Cancer Care Crisis

Pulitzer-Winning Keynote Speaker Announces Ken Burns' PBS Documentary on Cancer

Apr 09, 2014, 07:00 ET from Community Oncology Alliance

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The theme for the just-completed 2014 Community Oncology Conference, Community Oncology 2.0: Blazing a New Way Forward, was borne out by the clinical and business presentations highlighting advances in treating cancer and in paying for cancer care. However, those positives were in stark contrast to the crisis imperiling cancer care as evidenced by cancer clinic closings, drug shortages, dwindling supply of oncologists, and higher costs for patients and taxpayers as cancer care dramatically consolidates.

The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) conference was punctuated by a major announcement by the keynote speaker, Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, who for the first time publically unveiled his collaboration with famed producer and director Ken Burns to bring The Emperor of All Maladies to PBS in 2015. The biography of cancer will be the latest in the list of award-winning Ken Burns documentaries on, among others, baseball, the Civil War, national parks, and jazz, underscoring the importance of cancer.

Dr. Mukherjee shared that the Burns documentary would "put cancer on the map of American imagination in a way that hasn't happened in the past" and serve as "a kind of manifesto for the future of cancer in America."

Conference attendees heard presentations on genomics, molecular profiling, biomarkers in practice, and other clinical advances.  On the business side, the audience heard about novel pilots underway to radically reform the payment for cancer care, the today and future of information technology in oncology, and the advance of the Oncology Medical Home by COA.

A panel of cancer community experts discussed the dark cloud hanging over cancer care, as did the many patient advocates in attendance. COA announced a major grassroots initiative for early May to support passage of Representative Renee Ellmers' bill, H.R. 1416, the Cancer Patient Protection Act, to stop the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from applying the sequester cut to the underlying cost of cancer drugs.

"The Obama administration has stopped the sequester cut from being applied to parts of the Affordable Care Act but says it can't do anything about the cuts to cancer care," said COA executive director Ted Okon. "This is destructive and harmful for our nation's cancer care delivery system already in crisis and cancer patients, especially seniors, who expect better from their government." 

COA president Dr. Mark Thompson, an oncologist at The Zangmeister Center in Columbus, Ohio, said that the 2014 Community Oncology Conference represented an important turning point for community oncology.

"We have a clear course ahead in what we're referring to as Community Oncology 2.0," he said. "As we blaze a new way forward, community oncologists are doing more than ever before to be masters of our own destiny. Our aggressive advocacy efforts — coupled with the Oncology Medical Home program and now Burns' documentary — will help ensure our patients receive the care they so desperately need and deserve."

For more about the conference, visit www.COAConference.org.  

Video interviews with conference attendees and speakers are available at www.obroncology.com/COA-conference-coverage and www.oncologytube.com/index.php?page=videos.

For more information about "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies," visit www.emperorofallmaladies.org.

About Community Oncology Alliance
The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) is a non-profit organization dedicated solely to community cancer care, where almost 65% Americans with cancer are treated. Since its formation more than 10 years ago, COA has led community cancer clinics in navigating the increasingly challenging environment to provide efficiencies, patient advocacy and proactive solutions to the Congress and policy makers. COA members have testified before both chambers of Congress, authored cancer care demonstration projects, and been instrumental in the passage of oral cancer drug parity legislation, among many other initiatives. More information can be found at www.CommunityOncology.org.

COA is leading a multi-stakeholder group that is developing and implementing an Oncology Medical Home cancer care model and is advancing payment reform for cancer care. More information can be found at www.MedicalHomeOncology.org.

About COA Patient Advocacy Network
The COA Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN) was created in 2010 to advocate for access to local affordable care for all cancer patients. More information can be found at www.COAadvocacy.org.

SOURCE Community Oncology Alliance