A Cross-Sector Approach to Advancing Early, Equitable Access to Supportive Cancer Care: The Together for Supportive Cancer Care Summit

By Audrey Haberman, CEO, The Sheri & Les Biller Family Foundation 

A core goal of our work and vision is for every person in the United States diagnosed with cancer to have early, equitable access to supportive cancer care. Despite the proven benefits of the supportive cancer care approach, integrated supportive care is not widely available at hospitals and community health centers around the country for people with cancer. That’s why we are working to build partnerships with organizations across the country to expand early, equitable access to supportive cancer care. We also know that to be successful, it will require organizations and leaders across sectors coming together: employers, insurance and pharmaceutical, cancer care providers, policymakers, and cancer patient advocacy groups. We have heard from our partners that there had not previously been many gatherings of those different organizations, and discussions about a truly cross-sector path for collective action. 

On March 13th, we convened the first-ever Together for Supportive Cancer Care Summit in Washington, DC. The event brought stakeholders from across sectors and the United States to develop a set of strategies to make supportive care the national standard for cancer and other serious illnesses.  

We were also excited to welcome Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, a champion in the United States Congress for cancer research, early detection, and survivorship – and a survivor herself – who joined Les Biller for a fireside chat. 

The day was structured around panel discussions followed by small group cross-sector conversations and we focused on four key topics: 

  • Structural inequities that impact under-resourced communities 
  • Enhancing access to patient navigation; 
  • New standards that can improve access to supportive cancer care; and 
  • Payment models for success. 

Three key themes emerged where we believe progress is possible and also build on the important work many organizations in the room are already working on: 

  • Advocating for state and federal policies that expand early, equitable access to supportive cancer care; 
  • Demonstrating the impact of the supportive cancer care approach on people’s livelihood and the sustainability of our healthcare system; and, 
  • Engaging employers and increasing their commitment to supportive cancer care.  

Over the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing a consensus paper summarizing the discussions at the Together for Supportive Cancer Care Summit in more detail – and continuing to listen to our partners across sectors in the cancer care community to understand how we can best amplify the work that is underway, where we can make the biggest impact, and the best next steps for collective action. 

We are so grateful to the leaders and experts from organizations across the country who joined us in Washington, D.C. to share their perspective at the Summit – and we are so grateful for the work they do every day to help people living with cancer, their families, and their caregivers.