The American Society of Clinical Oncology has made some adjustments to its Patient-Centered Oncology Payment (PCOP) advanced alternative payment model and will now be looking to gain approval from the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC).
reviews physician-developed advanced alternative payment models and sends those APMs that are approved to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to determine if there will be further testing and possible implementation for use by physicians as part of the track of the Quality Payment Program.
Even if approved by PTAC, the ASCO model faces an uphill battle. CMS already has its own Oncology Care Model (), and given the agency’s track record of not testing APMs that have been approved by PTAC, the deck may be stacked against ASCO in terms of getting its model into Medicare.
But officials at ASCO are hoping a PTAC vetting and approval will open the door to its implementation by commercial payers.
“We are now ready to take this to PTAC,” Jeffery Ward, MD, past chair of ASCO’s government relations committee, said in an interview. “I don’t expect any trouble getting through PTAC. The other question is whether CMMI would decide to actually test a model like this, and so far, they have seemed pretty much a one-trick pony, as in they’ve got their Oncology Care Model and they are going to run with it.”
However, Dr. Ward, a medical oncologist at Swedish Cancer Institute of Edmonds, Wash., said that PCOP has been designed with the commercial market in mind and the PTAC recommendation will help validate the model and make it more appealing to commercial payers.
A key feature of the adjusted payment model is that it has taken a lesson learned from CMS’s Oncology Care Model in terms of how to account for the price of drugs. Including the price of drugs in a value-based payment model – the approach taken by the OCM – creates too much variability, Dr. Ward noted. He used lung cancer as an example, noting that the type of lung cancer could have more of an impact on physician spending than any specific treatment decisions a physician can make because the treatment choices may not be there.
“When that happens, whether you are successful or not depends on the luck of the draw instead of the choices you make,” he said.
In an effort not to penalize practices because of their patient mix, PCOP takes the cost of drugs out of the value mix.
“What this model does is it doesn’t hold practices responsible for the cost of the drugs. It holds them responsible for how they utilize the drugs,” he said. “It really begins to make me responsible for making value-based decisions as opposed to just getting lucky and having a cheaper panel of patients.”
Overall, Dr. Ward described the PCOP model as accomplishing the goals of CMS’s APMs by encouraging physicians to treat patients through high-value treatments.
“This model does that by including quality measures that play a role in how much you get paid,” he said. “There are pathways that are value-based pathways and your ability to follow those pathways plays a role in how much you get paid. The amount of care that you send to the ER or the hospital plays a role in how much you get paid. Those things are then used in adjusting what is our fee-for-service model of medicine. So you are still getting paid a base rate based on the care that you give on a fee-for-service model, but that gets adjusted up or down depending on those other characteristics.”
But for the model to have the biggest impact, it needs to be adopted by all payers in a given state or region and used by all physicians, who by the design of the payment model, will have a role in shaping the implementation details.
Savings could come from lower administrative costs at the physician office because there would be no need for separate contracts between payers, something that could generate savings of up to 8%, compared with the current system, Dr. Ward noted.
“This is designed to be a multipayer and multipractice initiative,” he said. “In its grandest form, a state or states would implement this and it would be participated in by all the oncology practices and all of the payers.”