ASTRO responds to troubling Medicare cuts and Radiation Oncology Model update
July 21, 2021
ARLINGTON, Va., July 20, 2021 — In response to consecutive weeks of proposed Medicare payment cuts to radiation oncology cancer care, Thomas J. Eichler, MD, Chair of American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), issued the following statement:
“Access to radiation therapy for people with cancer is under attack. In two consecutive weeks, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has singled out radiation oncology for payment cuts that put access to cancer care for Medicare beneficiaries in peril – at a time when cancer incidence rates are rising due to delayed screenings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By proposing to cut high-value radiation treatments by as much as 22% and proceeding with more than $160 million in reductions under the Radiation Oncology Model (RO Model), CMS is jeopardizing the ability of the nation’s radiation therapy professionals to continue to provide essential care for their patients now and in the future. Access to life-saving cancer treatments will suffer, and the viability of clinics already reeling from the pandemic will be at considerable risk if these proposals are finalized.
Given this urgent situation, the radiation oncology community calls upon President Joe Biden, a lifelong champion in the fight against cancer, to immediately intervene on the flawed RO model and proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule cuts. Likewise, we ask Congress to continue its longstanding support for radiation oncology care by taking action to blunt CMS’ draconian cuts and reform the RO model.
ASTRO remains committed to value-based care and to constructively engaging with CMS on reasonable ways to improve these policies. We are eager to help President Biden achieve his goal of ending cancer as we know it, and we are developing promising approaches to reduce health care disparities in cancer treatment. These difficult policy challenges require investments in our human and technological cancer care infrastructure that would be virtually impossible under the current proposals. Massive cuts such as those proposed by CMS will set us back, not move us forward, and ASTRO will vigorously oppose these threats to radiation oncology and our patients.”
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies.