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News and Publications

Speaker added to #ASTRO20 COVID session, RO Model resources, new Red Journal podcast

October 14, 2020


Speaker from PAHO/WHO just added to special COVID-19 session at ASTRO 2020
Amalia Del Riego Abreu, MD, chief of the Health Services and Access Unit with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization has just been added to the special session, COVID-19 and the Impact on the Health Care Team, taking place on Wednesday, October 28, during the 2020 ASTRO Annual Meeting. Dr. Del Riego will join Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Patrice Harris to discuss the pandemic’s impact on health care professionals. In the response to COVID-19, Dr. Del Riego is part of the Incident Management Team at the regional level, and she is responsible for areas related to the expansion of health services, clinical management and infection prevention and control. Be sure to register for ASTRO 2020 so you don’t miss this timely and important session moderated by Dr. Lisa Kachnic, chair of radiation at Columbia University and chair of the Annual Meeting Scientific Committee.


Friday, October 23, will be Exhibit Hall Only Day at ASTRO 2020
It can be difficult to find time between sessions to visit all of the exhibits at the ASTRO Annual Meeting, so this year, we have designated Friday, October 23, as Exhibit Hall Only Day. The interactive and engaging virtual Exhibit Hall will feature 110 companies displaying the latest products and services. Attendees will be able to visit with industry experts and chat one-on-one or as a group, view product information, download materials to their virtual briefcase and attend product demonstrations. Company representatives will be available to answer questions from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time from October 23 to October 29. Outside of those times, and through Monday, November 30, you will still be able to visit the Exhibit Hall and email exhibitors your questions. View the list of exhibiting companies, and register now for ASTRO 2020.


HHS announces Phase 3 of Provider Relief funding
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $20 billion in additional Provider Relief funding. In this Phase 3 General Distribution, providers who have already received funds may apply for additional aid that covers financial losses and changes in operating expenses triggered by COVID-19. Additionally, previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, will be able to apply for funds. The application submission period opened on Monday, October 5, and closes November 6, 2020. For more, see What’s Happening in Washington.


RO Model resources posted on ASTRO website; CMMI’s RO Model 101 webinar is tomorrow, October 15
RO Model resources, including three recorded webinars on the payment methodology, quality measures reporting and RO Model implementation procedures, have been posted on the ASTRO website. Additionally, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) is hosting an RO Model 101 webinar tomorrow, October 15, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. The webinar is expected to provide a high-level overview of the RO Model. For more information, see What’s Happening in Washington.


ASTRO urges CMS to waive budget neutrality requirements in 2021 MPFS proposed rule comment letter
ASTRO has issued a comment letter in response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) proposed rule, which estimates a 6% cut to radiation oncology services for 2021. ASTRO is very concerned about these proposed cuts and urged CMS to use its authority under the COVID-19 PHE to waive the budget neutrality requirement, which results in a 10% reduction to the Conversion Factor due to the implementation of the Medicare office visit E/M codes. ASTRO also issued comments on the 2021 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) proposed rule, which has a limited impact on radiation oncology services. For more information, please see ASTRO’s comments on both the MPFS and HOPPS. 


ASTRO urges reversal of proposed payment cuts
ASTRO has joined 46 organizations in sending a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma objecting to the budget neutrality reduction in the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) proposed rule. In the letter, the organizations detail multiple concerns, including how the PFS proposed rule would cripple the recovery of the U.S. health care system and reduce access to medically necessary specialty services for patients who have delayed seeking treatment due to COVID-19 concerns. The organizations then urge CMS to mitigate the impact of the budget neutrality provision by taking actions prescribed in the letter, including using the authority granted CMS under the current public health emergency. Radiation oncology is on tap for a 6% payment cut unless CMS or Congress intervenes. Contact Congress today. For details, see What’s Happening in Washington.


APEx and RO-ILS hold virtual office hours
ASTRO staff is holding virtual office hours throughout October to answer questions and help practices get started with APEx - Accreditation Program for Excellence® and RO-ILS: Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System®. Appointments are on a first come, first served basis. ASTRO staff will also be available for one-on-one chats within the ASTRO Resource Center during the Annual Meeting. Sign up for an APEx or RO-ILS meeting and contact apexsupport@astro.org or roils@astro.org with any questions.


CMS releases new repayment terms for Accelerated and Advance Payment Program
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced new recoupment terms for providers who received loans through the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. Recoupment will now begin one year after a loan’s issuance date. Medicare will automatically recoup 25% of Medicare payments for 11 months, then increase recoupment to 50% for the following six months. If a provider’s loan has not been completely repaid in this time period, CMS will issue letters requiring repayment of the remaining balance, subject to an interest rate of 4%. For more, see What’s Happening in Washington. 


ASTRO Annual Meeting affiliate continuing education credits
If you are a physicist, therapist or dosimetrist attending the 2020 Annual Meeting and plan to claim continuing education credits, please note that credits can only be earned and claimed for sessions viewed during the meeting dates of October 24 through October 28, 2020. Any sessions viewed after that time will not be eligible for credits. Further information on all credits offered at the meeting can be viewed on the Continuing Education Credit page.


New Red Journal podcast: Propensity Score Analyses
As part of the new featured section of the Red Journal, Statistics for the People, deputy editor Sue Yom, MD, PhD, hosts an in-depth discussion on the use of propensity scores with Beow Yeap, ScD, David Cheng, PhD, and Red Journal methodology editor David Sher, MD. This podcast accompanies the first article in the Statistics for the People section.