On March 20, 2020, the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) issued a letter to the White House imploring it to “request that all health insurance companies immediately waive ‘prior authorization’ requirements for cancer treatments during this COVID-19 crisis.”

In the letter, the organization puts plainly that cancer and cancer care do not stop for any crisis.

“As you can imagine, community oncology practices are dealing with an unprecedented, demanding situation of keeping clinical staff safe and COVID-19 free, so they can continue treating patients, but that is complicated by the necessity of sending administrative staff home to work remotely,” stated the letter, signed by COA President Michael Diaz, MD, and Executive Director Ted Okon.

The requirements of prior authorization have become an increasingly burdensome process even during normal times, but during the COVID-19 crisis, these authorizations have the “potential to become a catastrophe as practices are now dealing with the reality of requiring that all nonclinical essential personnel work remotely from home.”

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Many of the personnel tasked with obtaining these prior authorizations may not have adequate communications capabilities at home and will be unable to perform their tasks of obtaining these authorizations, the letter stated.

To date, prior authorization requirements only seem to have been waived for COVID-19 tests and related treatments. The letter asked for the same courtesy for cancer treatments.

The COA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for community oncology practices. The organization recently announced the cancellation of its annual meeting, which was scheduled in late April in Orlando, Florida. It will hold an all-virtual meeting instead.

Reference

Community Oncology Alliance. COA urgent comments to White House on prior authorization during COVID-19 emergency. Published March 20, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020.