WASHINGTON, April 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) released the 2020 Community Oncology Practice Impact Report which tracks the changing landscape of cancer care in the United States. The report documents a 20.8 percent increase in practices merging with, or being acquired by, another community oncology practice and/or acquired by a corporate entity in the last two years. This major jump is likely the result of practices seeking protection from hospital merger pressures.
This is the eighth Community Oncology Practice Impact Report and covers activity for a 12-year period, from January 2008 through April 2020. Since 2008, COA has tracked 435 community oncology practices that have closed and 722 community oncology practices that have been acquired or become affiliated with hospitals.
The rate of practices being acquired by hospitals continued at a steady pace, with a 9.7 percent increase from 2018 to 2020, fueled most notably by hospitals' financial incentives in the 340B Drug Pricing Program and higher payments to hospital sites for cancer care services.
"Over the last twelve years an average of 9 practices per month have closed, been acquired by a hospital, or merged. These are troubling trends and dangerous for patients battling cancer," said Michael Diaz, MD, president of the Community Oncology Alliance and director of patient advocacy at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute. "The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the important and irreplaceable role that community oncology practices play in America's health care system. As hospitals have had to shift resources to focus on COVID-19, community oncology practices have remained open to treat patients. Cancer doesn't stop and the cancer care we provide will not stop, no matter what challenges are thrown our way."
"The trends of practice closures and hospital mergers have continued at pretty much the same pace as the last Community Oncology Practice Impact Report, which shows that policymakers in Washington are still not doing enough to preserve the independent, community oncology system. At the same time, we are being driven by public policy to deliver higher value and lower costs, all while not enough is being done to stop cancer care from being shifted into the much more expensive hospital setting," said Ted Okon, executive director of COA. "The shifting of cancer care to large health systems is the result of the runaway 340B program and disparate site-of-service payments that basically mint money for hospitals."
Despite community oncology practices keeping their doors open to treat patients in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, early data indicates that the crisis is significantly impacting practices, which are already reporting steep decreases in visits, treatments, and new patients. COA will be monitoring and reporting on the impact of the pandemic on community oncology practices, as well as advocating for policy changes that support them and their patients. As the report notes, while government support and policy changes enacted to date have been helping practices weather the storm, it is unclear if hospitals will use unrestricted bailouts to fuel growth post crisis, further acquiring community oncology practices and consolidating the nation's cancer care into the much more expensive hospital setting.
Compiled from public and private data sources, the 2020 Community Oncology Practice Impact Report provides a unique look at community oncology trends at both the national and state level. At the state level, the largest number of closures are in Florida (47), followed by Texas (44), and Michigan (36).
The complete 2020 Community Oncology Practice Impact Report is available at https://communityoncology.org/2020-community-oncology-alliance-practice-impact-report/.
About the Community Oncology Alliance:
The majority of Americans battling cancer receive treatment in the community oncology setting. Keeping patients close to their homes, families, and support networks lessens the impact of this devastating disease. Community oncology practices do this while delivering high-quality, cutting-edge cancer care at a fraction of the cost of the hospital setting. The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) advocates for community oncology and smart public policy that ensures the community cancer care system remains healthy and able to provide all Americans with access to local, quality, affordable cancer care. Learn more at www.CommunityOncology.org. Follow COA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/oncologyCOA or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CommunityOncologyAlliance.
SOURCE Community Oncology Alliance