TAMPA, Fla. — Florida Blue, the state’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan, recognizes Moffitt Cancer Center with a Blue Distinction® Centers (BDC) for Cellular Immunotherapy – CAR-T designation, part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated hospitals that, compared to other providers, deliver improved patient safety, better quality and improved health outcomes for patients, based on objective measures that were developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations. With CAR-T therapies recently introduced into clinical use, the designation criteria was created to acknowledge the expertise needed to deliver these new treatments.

An estimated 186,400 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2021. This accounted for almost 10% of estimated new cancer cases in the U.S., according to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies, or CAR-T, to treat certain types of patients with leukemia (Kymriah®) and lymphoma (Yescarta® and Kymriah®). And most recently, four more products have been approved since 2020 for patients in need of these advanced therapies:

  • Tecartus® (brexucabtagene autoleucel) for adult patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma, as well as adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Breyanzi® (lisocabtagene maraleucel) for adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma
  • Abecma® (idecabtagene vicleucel) for adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma
  • Carvykti™ (ciltacabtagene autoleucel) for adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma

Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, blood cells, lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system.

CAR-T therapy offers new options for many after other treatments stop working by redesigning the patient’s own immune cells, which usually fight infections, to fight cancer cells instead. The Blue Distinction Centers for Cellular Immunotherapy – CAR-T program designates hospitals that use evidence-based practices to deliver CAR-T therapies. Designees receive recognition for the care they provide in up to five advanced therapies, which includes Yescarta, Kymriah, Breyanzi, Tecartus and Abecma.

To receive a Blue Distinction Centers for Cellular Immunotherapy – CAR-T designation, a hospital must be certified by a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy program — required by the FDA to provide CAR-T therapies — and must be accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, including Standards for Immune Effector Cells. Additionally, designated hospitals must commit to systemwide monitoring and reporting of CAR-T patient outcomes through the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research registry. Designated hospitals also must have a payment model in place that includes patient protection against markup over the hospital’s wholesale acquisition cost for CAR-T specialty pharmacy products.

In 2015, Moffitt Cancer Center infused the world’s first patient with Axicabtagene Ciloleucel in the pivotal ZUMA-1 study that led to the FDA approving the CAR-T therapy for large B-cell lymphoma. In 2017, Moffitt also infused the world’s first patient with the FDA approved Axicabtagene Ciloleucel known as Yescarta®. The cancer center saw the need and growth for cellular immunotherapies and committed to growing the infrastructure to become a world leader in cellular immunotherapies. A few years later, Moffitt opened a dedicated unit for cellular immunotherapies consisting of eight outpatient treatment bays adjacent to a 12-bed inpatient unit. This structure allows for better continuity of care and patient satisfaction as the same treatment teams oversee the patient’s conditioning chemotherapy, CAR-T infusion and post-infusion care management.

“Achieving a Blue Distinction® Centers for Cellular Immunotherapy – CAR-T designation is a great accomplishment and contributes to our goal of being a world leader in cellular immunotherapies,” said Frederick Locke, M.D., chair of Moffitt’s Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Immunotherapy Department. “Moffitt looks forward to continuing our partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield to better serve their patients and ultimately help contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.”

“Moffitt is proud to partner with Florida Blue and the Blue Cross Blue Shield associations, who continue to focus on driving their members to best in class therapies and health outcomes,” said Evan Zaslow, Moffitt’s vice president of Payer Strategies.  “Blue Cross patients will have enhanced access and awareness to Moffitt, a recognized Center of Excellence for Cellular Immunotherapy and CAR-T.  Moffitt offers state of the art therapies, delivering cancer outcomes far above national averages and significantly improving survival rates.”

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has encouraged health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. It has helped patients find quality specialty care in bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacement, maternity care, spine surgery, transplants, and substance use treatment and recovery.  

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of all nationally designated providers, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.


About Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 53 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 7,800 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report® series and the national BCBS Health IndexSM. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube and follow us on Twitter.

About Blue Distinction Centers

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Each provider’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.