ASTRO calls proposed CMS cuts 'draconian'

By staff writers

September 9, 2021 -- The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) told the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that its proposed changes to the 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) could lead to draconian cuts in cancer care.

In one of its two letters, ASTRO said proposed changes in the 2022 fee schedule could result in $300 million in Medicare cuts for radiation therapy services starting January 1, 2022: $140 million in cuts due to several policy changes in the 2022 MPFS and cuts of $160 million over five years under the mandatory Radiation Oncology (RO) Model.

Payment rates will drop by about 13% for some radiation treatments for breast and prostate cancer, for example, and by more than 22% for advanced lung cancer treatment, according to the society. Furthermore, Medicare reimbursement for radiation oncology procedures will have dropped by 25% since 2012 if these reimbursement cuts are finalized.

In the second letter, ASTRO said it is "confused and disappointed that these proposed policies stand in such sharp contrast to President Biden's goals to 'end cancer as we know it' and advance health equity."

"We call on the Biden Administration to address the concerns of radiation oncologists across the country and avoid these draconian payment cuts before finalizing the Medicare physician fee schedule and the RO Model," ASTRO said.

Copyright © 2021

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