Through the continuous and tremendous growth of its patient assistance support program, US Oncology, Inc., a division of McKesson Corp. and a leading integrated oncology company, is helping cancer patients access the high quality cancer care they need. By helping patients obtain financial assistance, thousands can now afford much needed treatment and cancer therapies. The program is offered through practices affiliated with the United Network of US Oncology with a Comprehensive Strategic Alliance relationship.

“If it weren’t for US Oncology’s patient assistance support, I’d be dead,” said Jackie Haydu, an 82-year-old lung cancer patient from McDonald, Ohio. “When I was told how much my treatment was going to cost, I just shook my head. Even with insurance, there was no way I could have afforded chemotherapy; but because of this program, I’m alive. They prolonged my life, and I’m eternally grateful for that.”

Haydu was diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent surgery in 2008. She has been receiving chemotherapy at The Hope Center For Cancer Care ? Warren in Howland, Ohio. The Hope Center For Cancer Care is an affiliate of the United Network of US Oncology, a nationwide network of independent community-based oncology practices united around the concept of bringing high-quality, evidence-based cancer care to patients in their own hometowns. Staff at the Hope Center For Cancer Care says that patients like Haydu ignite their passion to provide patients with an exceptional care experience.

“US Oncology’s patient assistance support team members are passionate about their jobs,” said Chuck Dowling, executive committee member, Physician Services, US Oncology. “They work tirelessly to help patients in need access funding opportunities provided by dozens of community organizations to cover the costs of treatments. To date, this team has helped more than 14,000 patients from across the country obtain well over $100 million in financial assistance.”

Due to the high cost of cancer therapy, many Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) have been developed by pharmaceutical manufacturers and charitable foundations to help patients who have no insurance or who are underinsured get the treatment they need. US Oncology’s team of PAP experts works with patients to coordinate and monitor the process.

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“It’s our mission to help cancer patients get the financial assistance they need so they can focus on their treatment and recovery, rather than worry about how they are going to take care of themselves and their families financially,” said Sharon Roeder, director of Patient Assistance Support, US Oncology. “Many patients have no idea about the programs that may be available to them or if they even qualify. We are here to help them through that process. It’s one less thing for them to worry about.”

The US Oncology service which guides patients through the application process for numerous PAPs continues to grow year-over-year, which means more cancer patients are getting the financial help they need to survive cancer. US Oncology offers its patient assistance support services to practices affiliated with the United Network of US Oncology who have a Comprehensive Strategic Alliance relationship with the company. In addition, support for financial assistance is offered to all patients on oral chemotherapies obtained through US Oncology’s OncologyRx Care Advantage?. Care Advantage is a national specialty pharmacy focused on providing oral cancer medications and helping patients understand how to take them and is available to patients regardless of where they are being treated. In January 2011, OncologyRx Care Advantage assisted patients in obtaining $1.6 million in oral chemotherapy grants to help them afford their co-pays. The program also offers support from trained nurses who call patients to check on their well-being and ensure they complete their intended treatments.

By the end of 2010, the number of patients who have benefitted from these programs increased by 22 percent year-over-year. Compared to the case count in 2009, all practices in the United Network of US Oncology using the service showed tremendous growth in the number of patients assisted. This resulted in an increase of 28.9% assistance dollars over 2009. BR>
“The patient assistance support program is a tremendous asset of US Oncology,” said Leonard Kalman, MD of Advanced Medical Specialties in Miami, Florida. “The growth and the success of the program are great examples of the cooperation US Oncology offers its affiliated practices to help our patients continue to receive therapy on time, despite today’s reimbursement challenges.”

“I’m sincerely thankful for all the work that patient assistance support has done with the foundations,” said Lisa Winkler, RN, OCN, director of Pharmacology and Formulary, Advanced Medical Specialties. “US Oncology patient assistance support staff helped our patients obtain $223,721 in 2009, and an additional $1.5 million in 2010. US Oncology’s patient assistance support team helps to relieve much of the financial stress so that patients seen in our offices can concentrate on getting healthy. I’m excited to see how many patients can be helped through these valuable programs.”

The continual growth of US Oncology’s patient assistance support also has Haydu and her caregivers excited about the future.

“US Oncology’s patient assistance support has been a huge benefit not only for our patients, but our practice,” said Chris Rimar, patient financial counselor for The Hope Center for Cancer Care ? Warren. “Most of the patients come in scared and certainly worried about how they are going to pay for their treatment. As a patient financial counselor, my job is to assure them that help is out there, and that their job is to get well. The patient assistance support team at US Oncology is simply the best group I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They are caring, diligent, and conscientious people who make my job so much easier. Patients who normally would have trouble paying their bills are getting them paid through the foundations, which helps them stay on their recommended treatment schedules and gives them the hope of a positive outcome.”

“I’m now in good spirits,” said Haydu, mother of two and grandmother of five. “This is a marvelous thing US Oncology is doing. Because of their financial assistance support, I was able to see my grandchildren graduate college. Now, I’m confident I will see them get married. Life is going on. Every day is like a present I get to unwrap.”

US Oncology and its Patient Assistance Support program will be featured on 21st Century Health on The FOX Business Network on Saturday, February 19 at 4:30pm EST as well as on CNBC at a later date.

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