News and Publications

2020 MPFS & HOPPS final rules, final days for Best of ASTRO reg, Stephen Hahn nominated to lead FDA

November 6, 2019

2020 Medicare rules continue stable fee schedule rates, reduce hospital supervision levels
On Friday, November 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the 2020 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and 2020 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) final rules, setting important policies for radiation oncology. ASTRO is pleased that the MPFS retained the existing treatment delivery and image guidance G Code freeze through 2020. ASTRO successfully advocated for this extension as the specialty transitions to value-based payment through the pending implementation of the RO Model. In the HOPPS final rule, CMS extended existing general supervision requirements to all hospital outpatient therapeutic services, thereby reducing supervision for radiation therapy services. ASTRO opposed such a broad reduction that could risk patient safety. The Agency noted that facilities and physicians have the flexibility to adhere to higher standards. More information about the final rules can be found in What’s Happening in Washington, including summaries detailing the impact of the final MPFS and HOPPS rules on radiation oncology services.

There’s still time to register for 2019 Best of ASTRO
Best of ASTRO takes place in less than two weeks, November 15-16, at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. This meeting will focus on the most clinically relevant and influential abstracts presented at ASTRO’s Annual Meeting in the major disease sites, as well as palliative care, patient safety, and biology and physics. Q&A time is included at the end of each session, and the program includes three Live SA-CME sessions, where physicians can earn up to three MOC Part II SA-CME credits. View the full schedule of events, and register now.

ASTRO supports nomination of Stephen Hahn, MD, FASTRO, to lead U.S. Food and Drug Administration
On Friday, November 1, President Trump nominated Stephen Hahn, MD, FASTRO, as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Hahn served on the ASTRO Board of Directors from 2014 to 2018 and is chief medical executive at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He has broad knowledge as a clinician, researcher, educator and administrative leader, and ASTRO urges the Senate to swiftly confirm the nomination. Read more for details on the nomination and to see what ASTRO leadership says in support of Dr. Hahn.

New research suggests proton radiation therapy can benefit patients with inoperable liver cancer
Two new studies recently published in the Red Journal found the use of proton radiation therapy to treat patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) can extend overall survival and identify predictors of treatment-related complications. Nina Sanford, MD, and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that proton radiation, compared to traditional photon radiation, can extend overall survival (OS) with reduced toxicity. The authors concluded that improved OS could be due to the lower occurrence of post-treatment liver decompensation. The second study, by Cheng-En Hsieh, MD, and colleagues, sought to identify metrics to predict radiation-induced liver disease (RILD) in patients treated with proton therapy. The researchers found that the volume of liver untouched by radiation was more important than the dose delivered, and that RILD could also be predicted by tumor size, liver volume and severity of liver disease prior to treatment.

ASTRO seeks public comments on radiation for cervical cancer guideline
ASTRO requests feedback on the draft Radiation Therapy for Cervical Cancer: An ASTRO Clinical Practice Guideline. The scope of the guideline is limited to curative management of invasive carcinomas of the uterine cervix, which include squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas. It focuses on management of cervical cancer with radiation therapy and its indications, techniques and outcomes. Additionally, it covers other therapies that modify the efficacy of radiation therapy when used concurrently or in sequence (e.g., chemotherapy and/or surgery). Comments can be submitted via webform through Monday, December 2, 2019.

Reminder to comment on LDR Brachytherapy and Lutetium (Lu-177 DOTATATE) therapy practice parameters
Time is running out to provide feedback on the Practice Parameter for the Performance of Low-Dose-Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy and Practice Parameter for Lutetium (Lu-177 DOTATATE) Therapy. The deadline for submission is tomorrow, Thursday, November 7. The LDR practice parameter was collaboratively revised by the American College of Radiology (ACR), American Brachytherapy Society (ABS) and ASTRO. The Lu-177 DOTATATE practice parameter is a new topic, collaboratively developed by the ACR, American College of Nuclear Medicine, Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and ASTRO. These documents were reviewed by the ACR expert panels, which included radiation oncologists. It is important that recommendations propose specific language to amend the documents. To log your recommendations for these documents, please send them to Lisa Bradfield or contact her with any questions.

ROhub celebrates one year!
November marks the one-year anniversary of the new and improved ROhub. ASTRO’s official online community continues to serve as a place for collaboration and networking. To celebrate its one-year anniversary, ASTRO is conducting an online scavenger hunt on ROhub. At the beginning of each week, a new activity will be posted in the Open Forum for members to complete. Those who complete all posted activities will be entered into a drawing, and five individuals will win $50 each in ASTRO cash, which can be used toward ASTRO products. Learn more about the ROhub and the activities taking place throughout the month in the latest blog from ASTRO Communications Committee Chair
Sabin Motwani, MD. Read more.

MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland Network receives APEx accreditation
Congratulations to MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland (Midland) and MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot (Alma), both located in Michigan, for recently completing the ASTRO Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx®). To be fully accredited, a facility must meet a majority of the APEx standards in a satisfactory manner, and the accreditation status is valid for four years. View a list of accredited facilities, and contact ASTRO staff for additional information on the APEx program.