Radiation therapy 'under attack' in new outpatient payment rule, oncologists say

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The American Society for Radiation Oncology is urging CMS to scale back proposed Medicare payment cuts to radiation oncology cancer treatments. 

"Access to radiation therapy for people with cancer is under attack," Thomas Eichler, MD, chair of the association said in a July 20 statement. "For two consecutive weeks, CMS has singled out radiation oncology for payment cuts that put access to cancer care for Medicare beneficiaries in peril — at a time when cancer incidence rates are rising due to delayed screenings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic." 

As part of CMS' proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule for 2022, payments for some radiation therapy services could be reduced by as much as 22 percent. 

"CMS is jeopardizing the ability of the nation's radiation therapy professionals to continue to provide essential care for their patients now and in the future. Access to lifesaving cancer treatments will suffer, and the viability of clinics already reeling from the pandemic will be at considerable risk if these proposals are finalized," Dr. Eichler said in the statement. 

The group called on President Joe Biden's administration to intervene and "blunt CMS' draconian cuts and reform the [radiation oncology] model." 

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