Congress Must Pass Legislation Protecting Access to Radiation Oncology

March 1, 2022

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), along with more than 20 other stakeholder groups, sent a letter to congressional leadership urging lawmakers in both chambers to pass legislation this year to help radiation therapy clinics continue to provide potentially life-saving care to patients with cancer.

In the letter, the organizations thank Congress for passing Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act, which delayed implementation of the radiation oncology alternative payment model (RO Model) until January 1, 2023. The delay provided stakeholders, Congress, and related agencies a renewed opportunity to make critical changes to the RO Model and stabilize payments for clinics.

However, additional legislation is needed to ensure radiation therapy clinics can maintain services and recover from pandemic-related financial burdens. Specifically, the signatories are asking Congress to:

  • Freeze most radiation therapy payments under the fee schedule for five years at 2021 levels
  • Reduce the RO Model discount factors to 3%
  • Restore the 5% APM incentive payment to eligible freestanding centers

Freezing fee schedule payment rates would stabilize reimbursement for community-based practices, allowing them to maintain services. Additionally, a payment freeze will allow for a clean evaluation of the RO Model to better inform future value-based payment models. Reducing the RO Model discount factors to 3% would more evenly distribute the payment impact across Model participants, while still saving Medicare approximately $100 million over 5 years. Finally, restoring the 5% APM incentive payment would ensure the RO Model adheres to requirements of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.

Read the full letter.

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