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ASTRO Chairman Michael Steinberg, M.D., FASTRO, reaffirms Society's commitment to ending self-referral
Date:6/27/2013

sician's potential for profit, yet we believe profit-motivated IMRT overuse is rampant due to the proliferation of urology ownership of radiation therapy centers. The abuse of this expensive technology is allowed by a loophole in the federal physician self-referral law. We agree with Dr. Jacobs et. al.'s concerns that financial incentives may be negatively impacting treatment decisions, which we believe are compounded by ownership arrangements protected under the self-referral loophole.

ASTRO expects several independent studies will be published soon demonstrating that self-referral abuse in prostate cancer treatment, particularly among older men, is leading to unnecessary treatment, higher spending and inappropriate patient care. These new reports will add to the already significant body of evidence condemning self-referral abuse. In September 2012, a New England Journal of Medicine article authored by leading health policy experts called for closing the self-referral loophole for radiation therapy and other so-called "ancillary services." In the same month, the GAO issued a scathing report on self-referral in advanced diagnostic imaging titled "Higher Use of Advance Imaging Services by Providers Who Self-Refer Costing Medicare Millions" (GAO-12-966). On November 6, 2012, Bloomberg News published an investigative report indicting self-referral by demonstrating the real-world impact on patients' lives, which received in-depth follow-up by the local newspaper, the Monterey County Herald.

Cumulatively, all of these studies demonstrate that self-referral abuse drives overutilization of expensive technologies. Recently, several bipartisan groups, including the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Simpson-Bowles Moment of Truth project, as well as President Obama in his FY 2014 budget proposal, generally have endorsed ASTRO's recommended policy change to close the self-referral loophole. ASTRO agrees and urges Congress to act this year.

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Contact: Michelle Kirkwood
press@astro.org
703-286-1600
American Society for Radiation Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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