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Radiation Therapy Alliance Commends CMS For Mitigating Drastic Cuts To Radiation Oncology

RTA Appreciates Agency's Recognition of Updated Radiation Oncology Equipment Costs, Pledges Continued Cooperation with CMS to Assess True Cost of Care in Freestanding Setting

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  The Radiation Therapy Alliance (RTA), which represents 225 community-based cancer care facilities in 21 states caring for approximately 80,000 cancer patients annually, commends the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for mitigating drastic cuts to radiation oncology. The 2013 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Rule, released last week, updated radiation therapy equipment costs with data that the RTA provided and reduced the proposed 15 percent reimbursement cut to radiation oncology to 7 percent.  CMS also increased the assumed number of radiation therapists to two in response to recommendations from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

"Following the release of the Proposed PFS Rule in July, CMS took the time to hear from the radiation oncology community to better understand the true cost of care in free-standing radiation therapy centers," said Chris Rose, M.D., a radiation oncologist in Manhattan Beach, CA, and member of RTA. "We appreciate CMS's willingness to consider the evidence that was provided to them and we look forward to continued cooperation on future matters."

The reimbursement cuts to radiation oncology in 2013 will equate to approximately $140 million compared to 2012 rates. Though this amount is less than half of the proposed $300 million in cuts, the RTA remains concerned about the impact on the nation's community-based radiation therapy facilities, following significant cumulative cuts in recent years.

CMS has also expressed interest in engaging in a radiation therapy bundling project that would explore paying for episodes of treatment and related medical services. CMS notes in the Final Rule that it will examine episode-based payments in its upcoming report to Congress. The RTA has, since its inception, advocated for fundamental payment reform and looks forward to working with the agency to achieve reimbursement stability and predictability and to ensure patients' access to vital radiation therapy services in the community setting. Payment reform also offers the opportunity to promote the highest quality of care and better align the objectives of patients, providers and taxpayers.

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