First lady talks navigation with health insurance executives


First lady Jill Biden convened executives from top health insurance companies and other related organizations at the White House on Wednesday to discuss new commitments to expand access to navigation services for cancer patients.


What you need to know

  • First lady Jill Biden called on executives from top health insurance companies and other health plan organizations at the White House on Wednesday
  • The White House announced this month that seven health insurance companies, 40 cancer centers and community oncology practices have committed to taking new steps to expand access to navigation services.
  • The first lady also praised the administration's efforts to update the medical billing code to allow commercial health insurance companies to cover navigation
  • The effort is part of the administration's Cancer Moonshot initiative through which President Joe Biden has set an ambitious goal of reducing cancer mortality by 50% over the next 25 years.

“Navigators guide patients and their families through the complex and challenging world of cancer,” Dr. Biden said during remarks at the top of the roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the West Wing.

“They help patients with everything from scheduling appointments to keeping track of medications to coordinating things like transportation and child care,” she said. “When you have someone who knows the system with you every step of the way, it changes everything.”

The White House announced this month that seven health insurance companies — which together reach more than 150 million patients — will join forces to cover navigation services for patients, monitor use of services across demographics and look at outcomes. Agreed to use the new code. For those who use them and supports the standards of providing care that are set out in the Oncology Navigation Standards of Professional Practice.

The companies include Aetna, a CVS Health company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Eleven Health, Health Alliance Plans; Humana, Priority Health, and Choice Health. Forty cancer centers and community oncology practices across the country have committed to using these methods to increase access to services.

“Ensuring pathways to cancer navigation services is an important step toward removing barriers to needed medical care and improving overall health equity,” Dana Erickson, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, said during Wednesday's roundtable. ”

The First Lady also praised the administration's efforts to update the medical billing code to allow commercial health insurance companies to cover navigation. Under the previous code, insurers were not able to pay for such services, he said.

“But for those codes to help most people, insurance companies need to use them — that's where you come in,” she said. “You have stepped forward – by using these codes so that more of your members can benefit from the assistance provided by Patient Navigator.”

The White House also said Medicare will begin paying for some navigation services this year.

Seven national health plan associations have also pledged to teach their members how to use the new code to strengthen navigation, according to the White House.

“This is not just the right thing for patients, it's the right thing for your businesses,” Biden said Wednesday. “Patients with navigators miss fewer appointments, are more likely to complete their treatment, and are less likely to need emergency room visits or hospitalizations.”

The effort is part of the administration's Cancer Moonshot initiative through which President Joe Biden has set an ambitious goal of reducing cancer mortality by 50% over the next 25 years.

Biden was Tasked with leading the Cancer Moonshot initiative He resumed this effort when he was Vice President under former President Barack Obama and when he assumed the presidency himself.

Biden presented this effort as part of his “Unity Agenda,” A list of broad-consensus priorities that he unveiled during his first term state of the union address, This is also an issue close to his heart. Their son Beau died in 2015 after battling an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“The Cancer Moonshot demonstrates how powerful it can be when all stakeholders in health care come together to improve the lives of people with cancer,” said Dr. Kathy Moffitt, chief medical officer of Aetna and senior vice president of CVS Health. He also said that he himself is a cancer survivor.




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