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Medicare to Cover Costly Cancer Cell Treatments

The U.S. Facilities for Medicare Services on Wednesday stated it has finalized a decision to cover costly cancer cell remedies sold by Gilead Sciences and Novartis AG.

CMS, which operates Medicare – the federal government’s wellbeing program for Americans 65 and older – said it’s going to cover the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-accredited remedies when provided in healthcare facilities which have plans in place to track patient outcomes.

The nationwide decision clears up “plenty of confusion” about coverage and can help sufferers get access to the novel therapies such as CAR-T, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

The decision follows the company’s finalization last week of a proposal to increase its maximum      CAR-T payment to 65% of estimated costs from 50%. Some hospitals may even be qualified for supplemental payments in particular cases.

Gilead’s Yescarta, as well as Novartis’ Kymriah, has been accepted in 2017 for certain kinds of lymphoma and leukemia. But authorities and private health plans have balked at their high price of at least $373,000 for a one-time therapy before hospital prices, which can bring the bill for a single sufferer to more than a million dollars.

Over half of people with lymphoma eligible for CAR-T remedy are predicted to be covered by Medicare.

The agency stated it would further cover the CAR-Ts for uses not accepted in their labels, as long as CMS-approved medical rules recommend them.

The novel treatments take away a type of immune system cells from each sufferer and re-engineer them to fight specific blood cancers better, keeping almost 40% of sufferers alive for over two years.

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