Background: Next-generation tumor sequencing (NGTS) panels, which include multiple established and novel targets across cancers, are emerging in oncology practice, but lack formal positive coverage by US payers. Lack of coverage may impact access and adoption. This study identified challenges of NGTS coverage by private payers. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 NGTS experts on potential NGTS benefits, and with 10 major payers, representing more than 125,000,000 enrollees, on NGTS coverage considerations. We used the framework approach of qualitative research for study design and thematic analyses and simple frequencies to further describe findings. Results: All interviewed payers see potential NGTS benefits, but all noted challenges to formal coverage: 80% state that inherent features of NGTS do not fit the medical necessity definition required for coverage, 70% view NGTS as a bundle of targets versus comprehensive tumor characterization and may evaluate each target individually, and 70% express skepticism regarding new evidence methods proposed for NGTS. Fifty percent of payers expressed sufficient concerns about NGTS adoption and implementation that will preclude their ability to issue positive coverage policies. Conclusions: Payers perceive that NGTS holds significant promise but, in its current form, poses disruptive challenges to coverage policy frameworks. Proactive multidisciplinary efforts to define the direction for NGTS development, evidence generation, and incorporation into coverage policy are necessary to realize its promise and provide patient access. This study contributes to current literature, as possibly the first study to directly interview US payers on NGTS coverage and reimbursement.
Julia R. Trosman, Christine B. Weldon, R. Kate Kelley, and Kathryn A. Phillips
Sheetal M. Kircher, Mary Mulcahy, Aparna Kalyan, Christine B. Weldon, Julia R. Trosman, and Al B. Benson III
The first confirmed case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States was reported on January 20, 2020. As of September 17, 2020, there were more than 6.6 million confirmed cases and 196,277 deaths. Limited data are available on outcomes of immunocompromised patients, but early published reports from China indicate that those with cancer have a 3.5 times higher risk of ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, or death than those without cancer. Because of the uncertain behavior of COVID-19, it has become imperative for practices to limit exposure to vulnerable patients. Telemedicine has been one of the cornerstones of caring for patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. This review provides an overview of reimbursement policy by public and private payers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, describes implications in cancer care, and offers considerations for future reimbursement policy.
Julia R. Trosman, Christine B. Weldon, Michael P. Douglas, Allison W. Kurian, R. Kate Kelley, Patricia A. Deverka, and Kathryn A. Phillips
Background: Hereditary cancer panels (HCPs), testing for multiple genes and syndromes, are rapidly transforming cancer risk assessment but are controversial and lack formal insurance coverage. We aimed to identify payers' perspectives on barriers to HCP coverage and opportunities to address them. Comprehensive cancer risk assessment is highly relevant to the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), and payers' considerations could inform PMI's efforts. We describe our findings and discuss them in the context of PMI priorities. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 major US payers, covering >160 million lives. We used the framework approach of qualitative research to design, conduct, and analyze interviews, and used simple frequencies to further describe findings. Results: Barriers to HCP coverage included poor fit with coverage frameworks (100%); insufficient evidence (100%); departure from pedigree/family history–based testing toward genetic screening (91%); lacking rigor in the HCP hybrid research/clinical setting (82%); and patient transparency and involvement concerns (82%). Addressing barriers requires refining HCP-indicated populations (82%); developing evidence of actionability (82%) and pathogenicity/penetrance (64%); creating infrastructure and standards for informing and recontacting patients (45%); separating research from clinical use in the hybrid clinical-research setting (44%); and adjusting coverage frameworks (18%). Conclusions: Leveraging opportunities suggested by payers to address HCP coverage barriers is essential to ensure patients' access to evolving HCPs. Our findings inform 3 areas of the PMI: addressing insurance coverage to secure access to future PMI discoveries; incorporating payers' evidentiary requirements into PMI's research agenda; and leveraging payers' recommendations and experience to keep patients informed and involved.