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MHSC doctor advocates for cancer patients

MHSC doctor advocates for cancer patients

Dr. Symington met with Wyoming’s U.S. delegation during the summit

Cancer physicians from across the country recently participated in the 2020 ASCO Advocacy Summit. Dr. Banu Symington was among them.

Symington is an oncologist/hematologist at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County’s Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center. She participated in the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s virtual summit Sept. 15 & 16.

“I met with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, and an aide to U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi as part of the ASCO Advocacy Summit,” she said. The ASCO hosts the meeting annually to advocate for legislative priorities that benefit cancer patients.

“We are advocating for reimbursement of routine care costs for Medicaid patients enrolled in clinical trials; for maintenance of expanded telemedicine services after the pandemic, a significant benefit for rural patients; for emergency infusions of cash into the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute; and a specific halt to step therapy – also known as ‘fail-first therapy’ – for cancer patients,” Symington said.

“I let them all know that we are poised to start clinical trials,” she said. “We are the only Wyoming cancer center to be in that position.”

Outlining these priorities for legislative delegates is important. Their support for these policies will help improve access to high-quality, high-value care for people living with cancer, according to the ASCO.

Here are some of the key legislative priorities:

  • Improve Diversity in Clinical Trials: It is co-sponsored in the U.S. House as HR913, the Clinical Treatment Act. Once introduced in the U.S., ASCO is seeking support with companion legislation.
  • Protect Appropriate Patient Care: It is co-sponsored in the U.S. House as HR2279, the Safe Step Act. It is co-sponsored in the U.S. Senate as S2546, the Safe Step Act.
  • COVID-19 & Cancer: Oncology care providers are discussing their practice and research with U.S. House and U.S. Senate delegations. They are asking Congress to come to agreement on needed charges for telehealth and research funding.

“We are advocating for continued reimbursement for telehealth services, and asking that telephone visits be covered, as well,” Symington explained. “This is particularly important for rural patients who otherwise need to travel hundreds of miles for routine care.”

For more on Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, go to sweetwatermemorial.com. For more on the recent summit, follow #ASCOAdvocacySummit.