Disclosure: No position in EXAS.
This month’s draft recommendation by the United States Preventative Services Task Force on colorectal cancer screening was deeply validating. The task force highlighted the specificity reduction introduced by combining FIT with a diagnostic DNA assay, a point emphasized by many market participants and independent observers over the years. Cable Car submitted comments supporting the task force’s recommendation.
I will have more to say about the impact on Exact Sciences and Cable Car’s positioning in the forthcoming third quarter investor letter.
In the meantime, I had one more public comment to research and submit first. Cable Car’s final public comment on the reconsideration request, which was preliminarily denied in August, is now available. The comment is styled as a compromise and follows an enlightening conversation with the staff at CMS regarding their constraints.
Cable Car has advanced a new crosswalk proposal: 82274 (FIT) + 81275 (KRAS) + 81288 (MLH1 methylation). As a diagnostic assay that is explicitly excluded from reimbursement for screening purposes, KRAS still has no business in the crosswalk, in my opinion. However, it appears Exact Sciences is going to get away with its clever exploitation of policy, which makes it virtually impossible to argue on methodological grounds that a KRAS assay is not a KRAS assay. This is no different from the old abuses of “code stacking” and is one of the many shortcomings of the current process the new PAMA procedure will seek to address. 81288 is a far better comparator for the methylation assay than any previous proposal, but it was only recently priced through the gapfill process.
I am hopeful that at this point in the process CMS will still be able to give the compromise crosswalk its full consideration.
Read the comment letter.