Dr. Marshall Leads Letter on Access to Cancer Treatments

May 6, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC –Last week, Representatives Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) led a bipartisan letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) supporting their efforts to increase access to immunotherapies for America’s seniors battling cancer.

“The U.S. continues to develop medicines focused on cancer prevention and treatment, I applaud CMS’ decision that allows patients to utilize a new method of care aimed at treating cancer by focusing on strengthening the immune systems of America’s seniors battling cancer,” Dr. Marshall said.“With so many types of immunotherapies in the pipeline, there is hope for more effective treatments for different cancers.”

Immunotherapies, specifically Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies, work by engineering a patients’ immune cells to recognize and fight off life-threatening cancer cells. These therapies are the first of their kind and have only recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the last two years.

CMS released a proposal in February indicating they would consider covering the CAR T-cell therapy under Medicare if it is offered through a CMS-approved registry or clinical study. Currently, Medicare does not have a coverage policy for this new type of cancer therapy, but CMS has teamed up with the FDA to deepen their understanding of how patients respond to CAR T-cell therapy. This continued partnership will help with future decision making for coverage, with no registry or trial required. 

“Our bipartisan letter expresses our deep support for this initiative and asks for CMS to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive timely access and coverage, and for CMS to also cover the current and next wave of CAR T-cell therapies,” Dr. Marshall said.  

Specifically, the letter asks CMS to utilize existing databases that will help capture patient-reported outcomes, allow the coverage determination to be flexible enough to cover future FDA approved CAR T-cell therapy products, and recognize all current sites of care where CAR T-cell therapy is administered to patients – this includes hospitals, research cancer centers, and community oncology practices.

Read the full letter here


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