COA Says COVID-19 Policy Changes Put Patients at Risk

Allison Inserro

Cancer treatments can lead to unpredictable adverse events, so a COVID-19–related measure allowing home infusion jeopardizes patient health and safety, according to the Community Oncology Alliance (COA).

Patient safety might be compromised because of home infusion regulatory changes brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-10) pandemic, according to the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), although other groups support the changes, which affect Medicare Part B beneficiaries.

The virus has altered healthcare not just for those with the novel virus, but also for patients with cancer or rare diseases. Providers are working overtime to accommodate the sudden need.

CMS has allowed numerous workforce changes to increase the capabilities and ranks of frontline healthcare workers during this emergency. In an additional change, added Thursday, CMS allowed doctors to work across state lines and nurse practitioners to perform medical exams in nursing homes.

Many providers are pleased with these new flexibilities, which include the use of telehealth.

CMS has also temporarily relaxed standards for home infusion therapy, physician contracts, remote monitoring, and coverage determinations

Last week, COA said of the health of patients with cancer could be jeopardized by some of these changes. COA said it opposes home infusion of chemotherapy, cancer immunotherapy, and supportive drugs related to cancer.

Home infusion “by a provider who may not be a trained oncology nurse and may not recognize or be prepared to treat any of the serious adverse reactions that frequently occur is of significant concern,” COA said, adding that many of the adverse events related to cancer treatment cannot be adequately monitored if patients are self-administering at home.

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