News | Radiation Therapy | August 11, 2015

ASTRO Applauds U.S. Senators for Opposing Medicare’s Proposed Radiation Oncology Cuts

Cuts for 2016 would reduce physician payments to radiation oncology 5-7 percent or possibly more for community-based centers

ASTRO, Richard Burr, Debbie Stabenow, Medicare, proposed cuts, radiation oncology, MPFS, 2016

August 11, 2015 — The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) released a statement applauding U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for their efforts to stop proposed Medicare payment cuts to radiation oncology cancer care.

Sens. Burr and Stabenow are asking their Senate colleagues for bipartisan support to tell the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider their proposed cuts to radiation oncology in the recently issued Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) for 2016.

The proposed 2016 MPFS recommends reducing physician payments to radiation oncology, including cuts of about 5-7 percent to community-based cancer clinics—potentially higher for some centers depending on their patient populations. In their letter, the two Senators expressed “serious concern” that these cuts will have a significant impact on community-based centers and those that serve patients in rural areas, especially given that these same centers had payment reductions totaling nearly 20 percent during the last six years.

ASTRO will submit comments and recommendations in a letter to CMS by Sept. 8, 2015. 

The most significant portion of the cuts is due to an abrupt change in several policies, including setting values for newly created and revised radiation treatment delivery codes; increasing the assumed equipment utilization rate for linear accelerators used in cancer treatment; and removing the costs associated with several essential direct practice expense inputs, most notably on-board imaging, which ensures safe and accurate radiation treatments.

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