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ASTRO applauds MedPAC review of Stark law exception
Date:6/16/2010

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) commends the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) for highlighting concerns about physician self-referral in cancer care in its report released yesterday. We urge the commission to make recommendations to Congress to end abuses of the physician self-referral law in radiation oncology enabled by the "in-office ancillary services exception."

"We are very pleased that key federal policymakers are fully aware of the ever-expanding schemes that are being used to generate profit at the expense of American taxpayers and cancer patients," Tim R. Williams, M.D., ASTRO chairman, said. "We appreciate the considerable effort that MedPAC and others are dedicating to examine these abuses, and we are confident that this hard work will pay off in sound policies that protect cancer patients and precious health care resources."

ASTRO's highest priority is excellence in cancer patient care. When a patient's medical condition requires a referral for specialized care, the treatment decision must be based on quality care and patient choice, not financial incentives. ASTRO believes it is wrong to create business enterprises centered on rewarding physicians for making referrals, yet we are increasingly seeing business ventures across the country designed to generate additional revenues within a group practice by incorporating radiation therapy. We believe these arrangements erode patient choice and can result in dramatic increases in one form of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, while the use of other clinically appropriate, significantly less expensive treatments, such as radiation seed implants or even "watchful waiting," have declined or disappeared. This may lead to unnecessary Medicare spending.

In its report released today, MedPAC noted that many physicians have expanded their practices in recent years to include radiation therapy and other services included in the ancillary services ex
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Contact: Nicole Napoli
nicolen@astro.org
703-839-7336
American Society for Radiation Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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