Radiation Oncologists Met With Congressional Leaders to Reverse CMS Cuts and Provide Equal Access to Care
Radiation oncologists met with Congress to urge leaders to consider how the Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal to make significant cuts to radiation oncology facilities could be detrimental to the survival of patients with cancer, according to a press release from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).1 In 2021, 1.9 million people are anticipated to be diagnosed with cancer. This adds to an increasing number of late-stage cancer diagnoses caused by numerous delays in cancer screenings and detection due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to a need for an “all doors open” treatment strategy in order to manage the increased number of patients with late-stage disease. Over 100 oncologists met with medical physicists from 32 states and participated in 150 virtual meeting with lawmakers to emphasize the importance of keeping these facilities open. Oncologists noted 3 important points as to why the facilities need to remain open: First, oncologists noted the importance of defending equitable access to care by reforming the Radiation Oncology Model and stabilizing Medicare rates. In September of 2020, the CMS proposed the creation of a Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model (RO Model) by January 2022.2 Further changes to the RO model were proposed on July 19, including slight revisions to the discount factor without addressing numerous concerns raised by both the radiation oncology community and a broad coalition of medical provider groups, patients, hospitals, health systems, and bipartisan members of Congress.