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CMS Limits Proposed Medicare Cuts To Radiation Oncology
Date:11/2/2009

ASTRO very pleased by decision to significantly lessen, phase in cuts

FAIRFAX, Va., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ASTRO, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, today praised the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for limiting the payment reductions initially proposed for radiation oncology and spreading the remaining cuts over four years.

ASTRO had asked CMS to not implement proposed changes to the Medicare policies and payment rates for physician services that would have cut radiation oncology services by 19 percent, with certain services being cut by up to 44 percent. An ASTRO survey conducted in July indicated cuts of this scale would have a particularly devastating effect on community-based cancer centers and the patients they treat. The final rule released on October 30 is slated to reduce radiation oncology payments by only 5 percent over a four-year period. In other words, the proposed 19 percent cut for next year has been significantly reduced to only about a 1 percent cut for 2010.

"CMS's important action will allow radiation oncologists, particularly those working in community-based practices, to continue providing lifesaving radiation treatments for cancer patients. Keeping these clinics open and continuing to see Medicare beneficiaries with cancer will ensure cancer patients have local access to their essential daily treatments," ASTRO Chair Patricia Eifel, M.D., FASTRO, a radiation oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said.

In response to the July 13 Medicare physician fee schedule proposed rule, ASTRO wrote CMS urging it to withdraw its proposal to increase the equipment utilization rate for radiation therapy from 50 percent to 90 percent for equipment costing more than $1 million. ASTRO also asked CMS to make significant adjustments to the physician practice information survey data for radiation oncology and delay its implementation until changes were
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SOURCE American Society for Radiation Oncology
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