WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: As Part of the Cancer Moonshot, First Lady Jill Biden, Leading Health Insurers & Oncology Practices Nationwide Highlight New Actions to Expand Patient Navigation

Today, as part of the Biden Cancer Moonshot, a key pillar of the President’s Unity Agenda, First Lady Jill Biden convened executives from leading health insurance companies, community health plans, and health plan professional associations to highlight recent commitments to expanding access to navigation services to help patients and their families navigate health care treatments for cancer and other serious illnesses. The companies—Aetna, a CVS Health company; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota; Elevance Health; Health Alliance Plan; Humana; Priority Health; and Select Health—serve more than 150 million Americans and commit to cover navigation services for cancer patients.

“When you have someone by your side who knows the system and is with you every step of the way, it changes everything. But for too long, these navigation services weren’t available to many Americans.” said First Lady Jill Biden. “The companies that have stepped forward serve 150 million Americans – nearly half the country. That’s the power of the Biden Cancer Moonshot. Together, we’re building a world where the word cancer loses its power, where patients and their families have a trusted navigator by their side, and where no person has to face cancer alone.”

Through the Biden Cancer Moonshot, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden have prioritized supportive services for people who are touched by cancer, including by championing the importance of patient navigation services. Navigators guide families through every step of their cancer journey. Navigators have been shown to improve health outcomes and the patient experience by reducing times between diagnosis and treatment, and increasing treatment completion. These services also lower health care costs by reducing emergency room visits and hospitalizations and reduce health disparities, including by facilitating access to services to address unmet health-related social needs, such as food and housing insecurity and transportation needs. Until President Biden and Dr. Biden prioritized increasing access to these services, Medicare and other health plans largely did not pay for navigation, leaving this service out of reach for too many people, especially in low-resourced settings.
Leading oncology practices and private insurers support this vital work to deliver important support services to more Americans living with complex health conditions. See what they are saying below: 
Praveen Thadani, President/CEO, Priority Health
“Priority Health is honored to be among the first health plans in the country involved in the expansion of patient navigation as part of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot. A cancer diagnosis triggers several emotions for patients, including fear, loss and a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Navigators are a positive first step to offer much-needed support for cancer patients, caregivers, and families during such a complex journey; and will reduce inequities driven by social determinants.”

Bruce Broussard, CEO, Humana:
“Humana is proud to partner with the Cancer Moonshot initiative to help patients and their families better navigate health care treatments for cancer and other serious illnesses.  Humana serves six million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries nationwide – approximately 268,000 of whom underwent active cancer treatment last year, so we understand the unique challenges these members face.  We believe that a whole-person approach to health can improve health outcomes while helping reduce financial burden and providing better experiences for our patients fighting cancer.”

Heather O’Toole, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Select Health
“Select Health is pleased to participate in this work as part of the Biden Cancer Moonshot. These efforts align with our core mission of Helping People Live the Healthiest Lives Possible®, and our dedication to defeat this terrible disease. This collaborative effort highlights our commitment to supporting individuals facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and ensuring they receive the necessary guidance for navigating the healthcare landscape. We recognize the essential role that navigators play in assisting cancer patients and their families by providing clarity and simple solutions when navigating the complexities of their medical care. By offering coverage for these services, Select Health aims to empower individuals with the information and support needed to make informed decisions about their health.”

M. Catharine Moffitt, Senior Vice President, CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer, Aetna
“Aetna, a CVS Health company is proud to advance the principles of the Cancer Moonshot initiative and put our expertise to work as we provide people living with cancer a personal, accessible, and connected care experience. We look forward to sharing new educational materials related to the initiative with our physician and clinician partners serving our members living with cancer.”

Michael Genord, President and Chief Executive Officer, Health Alliance Plan:
“We’re proud to support President Biden’s initiative to improve access to cancer navigation services across the country. As these patients and their families navigate the challenges of cancer, our attention is on improving their overall experience including personalized assistance, care coordination support and addressing unmet social determinants of health to ensure their sole focus is on getting and staying healthy. We’re committed to removing barriers to care, and as a result improving patient outcomes and reducing overall healthcare costs.”
Robert McWilliams, Co-Deputy Director of Cancer Practice, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center:
“Cancer is a complex, life altering diagnosis that can be overwhelming for patients and their families. Navigators are passionate, essential components of the care team, helping to overcome barriers to care and coordinate care between multiple specialties. The Biden Cancer Moonshot’s efforts to fund and expand navigation services will help support all cancer patients, especially those who have the highest barriers to care. This will improve outcomes.”
Dana Erickson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota:
“As part of our mission to help people achieve their healthiest lives, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is committed to providing access to medical care that is affordable, effective, and of the highest quality. We are excited about this opportunity to advance our support for those facing cancer. Ensuring pathways to cancer navigation services is an important step in addressing barriers to care and improving overall health equity.”

Stacy Borans, Board Member, The Self Insurance Institute of America:
“The Self Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) is proud to support the Biden Cancer Moonshot’s initiative to expand navigation services access. A cancer diagnosis is incredibly overwhelming and extremely complicated for patients to wind through alone. The navigation codes will positively impact patient engagement and communication exponentially. SIIA is committed to educating our membership on the coverage and usage of these codes.”
Alliance of Community Health Plans
“ACHP supports the Biden Cancer Moonshot & Patient Navigation Initiative. We look forward to leveraging our members’ decades of community roots and partnerships to ensure patients and their caregivers are equipped to navigate an often-complicated health care system during an especially stressful period in their lives. Cancer diagnoses impact far too many families every year in the U.S., disproportionately affecting communities of color and areas with limited access to health care services. At their collective cores, ACHP and its nonprofit, community-based health plans are dedicated to supporting programs and initiatives that reduce disparities in access.”

Andrea Dwyer, Senior Professional Research Assistant, University of Colorado Cancer Center:
“The commitment to Patient Navigation from the Biden-Harris Administration is unprecedented. Our work at the University of Colorado and UCHealth systems have centered around stronger access to care and barrier reduction for cancer patients and survivors with a focus on sustaining the role of patient navigation to help meet the needs of our patients within and outside of Colorado. Sustainable funding mechanisms are essential to long-term sustainability and viability of patient navigation; without it, we would not be able to support patient navigation as one of the only evidence-based interventions to truly reduce health disparities for cancer patients.
Kris Blackley, Director of Patient Navigation, Levine Cancer Institute:
“Atrium Health Levine Cancer has always recognized the benefits of Patient Navigation and how it helps our cancer patients, but the Moonshot’s initiative to reimburse navigation services will be critical to sustaining this supportive service and allowing us to expand and serve more patients. We are looking forward to focusing on disease specific areas and our rural locations in our efforts to provide equitable care for all.”
Nita Lee, Gynecologic Oncology Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement and Co-Director for the Center to Eliminate Cancer Inequity University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center:
“We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to improve access to navigation services. Research has established that patients living farther from healthcare facilities, or those with limited access due to insurance status and other social determinants such as community health resources, language, poverty, or health literacy, can have worse health outcomes including higher rates of chronic disease-related conditions, lower cancer survival rates, and increased overall disease burden. Patient navigation programs can be cost saving and provide dedicated support from early diagnosis to survivorship, while reducing fragmentation of services for patients and caregivers. Adequate patient navigation improves experiences for both patients and providers. Providing increased equitable access to cancer therapies and supportive care services, so that all patients have access to guideline concordant care, is critical to improving quality patient care, reducing costs, and ensuring optimal health outcomes across populations.”
Yolanda Sanchez, Director and Chief Executive Officer, The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center:
“As the only cancer center within a 500-mile radius that is designated by the National Cancer Institute, The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center is committed to meeting the needs of all cancer patients in our state. New Mexico has a minority-majority population in a highly rural state: 51% of New Mexicans are Hispanic and 11% are American Indian. Patterns of cancer incidence and mortality vary widely among our different communities. Our nurse and patient navigators help our patients and their families through this difficult time by offering culturally-appropriate information, support services, and navigation to cancer care.”
Jackie Miller, Director of Oncology Navigation, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center:
“A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming and oncology navigators are able to support care coordination, reduce barriers to care, and provide comfort and a sense of calm by outlining a plan. Navigation is critical in achieving desired outcomes and the Biden-Harris administration’s recognition of the importance of this service is a positive step forward in advancing the field.”
Robert Vonderheide, Director, University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center:
“The Biden Moonshot calls for a reduction in cancer incidence which disproportionately affects environmental justice (EJ) communities. Here at the Abramson Cancer Center, we use community engagement to disseminate cancer incidence and environmental exposures using an “exposomic” framework to increase the uptake of cancer screening in EJ communities.”

Cary Presant, Kimlin Tam Ashing, Joseph Alvarnas, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center:
“As one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the country, City of Hope is deeply committed to improving access to optimal cancer care for all people, including multidisciplinary whole person care. City of Hope is proud to promote the use of codes that will increase navigation services to help our cancer patients receive whole person care with tailored treatments for cancer prevention, care, and survivorship. This process will help facilitate access to cutting edge therapies including precision medicine and clinical studies offered at City of Hope. Navigation is especially important for patients from underrepresented and underserved communities who experience greater barriers to accessing the care they need. City of Hope is also a leader in championing oncology navigation within primary care settings, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers. Access to these navigation services will help improve cancer screening, early diagnosis, and pathways to care while reducing cancer disparities.”
Ann Valentine, Manager Oncology Supportive Care, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego:
“We advocate for the expansion of navigation services in cancer care. These services are essential for overcoming barriers to care and ensuring treatment plan adherence. With 7 years of experience in offering navigation services, we have seen the successes firsthand. By increasing access to navigation services, patients gain the knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of cancer care, leading to improved outcomes and heightened satisfaction among patients and caregivers alike.”
Irving Lafrancis, Oncologist, Mercy Hospital Joplin Cancer Center:
“Oncology patient navigation is such an important wraparound service in the continuum of care for the cancer patient. They improve patient care, access, and communication across the specialties that cancer care patients utilize. Often equated to a ‘cancer concierge,’ patient navigators know all of the resources that a patient may need and can connect them to the needed resources in a timely manner. Our program has utilized patient navigation for many years and this legislation is recognition that cancer patient navigation is the standard of care and the reimbursement will allow expansion of this role in cancer programs across the country.”
Electra Paskett, Founding Director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity and Deputy Director for Population Sciences and Community Outreach, and Marion Rowley, Designated Chair in Cancer Research, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center:
“Far too many people fall through the cracks when it comes to cancer screening and treatment due to complex and layered barriers. At the Center for Cancer Health Equity at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, we have been at the forefront of validating and championing patient navigation services to help remove barriers to cancer screening and care for more than 20 years. Today, we see the impact that evidence-based patient navigation has in our work, with better screening adherence and treatment completion among people at historically higher risk for poor outcomes; simply because they have someone to help them overcome barriers to care at every step on the journey. We applaud the Biden administration’s rule, effective January 2024, requiring Medicare coverage of patient navigation services in high-risk, serious illnesses, like cancer, and creating a pathway for private insurer coverage. We welcome additional steps to expand access to this proven service.”
John Montville, Executive Director of the Oncology Service Line, Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital
“By allowing billing and, therefore, funding for these important services, the Biden Cancer Moonshot efforts around cancer navigation will protect these vital services in programs where they already exist for cancer patients and allow other cancer programs to add or expand these services. All cancer patients should consider access to high quality cancer care a given. But, they also need access to the many integrative and ancillary care services for their journey with this terrible disease; and, the foundation of these services is oncology navigation which gives cancer patients a guide and coach through the complex and challenging journey that is cancer.”


Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/03/27/what-they-are-saying-as-part-of-the-cancer-moonshot-first-lady-jill-biden-leading-health-insurers-oncology-practices-nationwide-highlight-new-actions-to-expand-patient-navigation/

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