PHE's end leaves some cancer patients traveling 500+ miles for medication

With the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, independent oncologists can no longer send prescriptions directly to Medicare patients. That's creating serious hurdles for some patients in rural areas, The Wall Street Journal reported June 12. 

The news outlet spoke to a patient in rural Texas who was getting treatments mailed to him during the pandemic. Now, he plans to make the 1,138-mile round-trip drive to his oncologist's office in Houston to pick up medications every few months. 

During the pandemic, a rule that requires independent oncologists to dispense prescriptions only to a patient who is physically in their office at the time was suspended. Its return has concerned patients and oncologists. 

"With oral cancer drugs that are dispensed by a practice, it's a Stark law violation if a patient isn't there himself picking it up. For the life of me, I can't comprehend why," Ted Okon, executive director of the Community Oncology Alliance, told the Journal. "It doesn't make sense at all." The group is lobbying Congress and CMS to rescind the restriction. 

The rule poses risks for seniors who don't have easy access to transportation, sources told the news outlet. Medicare patients can still get cancer drugs mailed to them from third-party specialty pharmacies, though that can lead to waste and higher costs. 

A CMS spokesperson said the ban is a long-standing policy and that the agency "will closely monitor patient complaints to watch for any issues affecting patient access."

Read the full report here


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars