CMS' final rule regarding the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, published on November 1, includes changes that reflect an overall 7% reduction in payment for radiation oncology services and an overall 9% cut to radiation therapy centers. This modification is less than half of the 15% and 19% payment cuts that CMS originally proposed on July 30, 2012.
CMS has modified reductions to intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). It also added a second therapist for delivery of IMRT, and added seven pieces of equipment that were inadvertently deleted from IMRT delivery in the 2012 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.
The agency is also updating assumptions for several pieces of equipment for IMRT and SBRT delivery. Its current interest rate assumption of 11% will be replaced with a sliding-scale approach based on current U.S. Small Business Administration maximum interest rates for different categories of loan size, ASTRO said.
Dr. Michael Steinberg, chairman of ASTRO's board of directors, said that while ASTRO remains concerned about the level of reimbursement cuts, the organization appreciates that CMS responded to its concerns and those of more than 130 bipartisan members of Congress who supported ASTRO's efforts to protect access to radiation oncology services in small and rural communities in the U.S.