In a broad effort to improve care for cancer patients, the CMS is proposing coverage expansions for off-label use of some cancer drugs, use of positron emission tomography (PET) scans for cancers and a $300 million demonstration project to measure and improve the quality of care provided to Medicare patients.
The announcement reflects new procedures the agency is implementing to review scientific evidence for coverage decisions more rapidly, the agency said. As part of the proposal, the CMS is proposing off-label use in clinical studies for new targeted cancer drugs already approved for colorectal cancer. Such drugs include oxaliplatin, irinotecan, bevacizumab and cetuximab. PET scans would be used for cervical cancer and would be studied for use for other forms of cancer.
The one-year, nationwide demonstration project will focus on three major areas of concern for cancer patients: pain, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue, all side effects of undergoing cancer therapies. Providers will receive a payment of $130 per patient per day for participating in the project.
The CMS will be seeking public comments in the next few weeks. Information on the proposed coverages can be found in the draft decision memos for anticancer chemotherapy for colorectal cancer and for positron emission tomography for various cancers.