News and Publications

2021 Board election results, RO Model changes, #ASTRO21 register your way

July 21, 2021

ASTRO announces 2021 elections results
Congratulations to the following newly elected members of ASTRO’s Board of Directors: President-elect Jeff M. Michalski, MD, MBA, FASTRO, Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University, St. Louis; Health Policy Council Vice-chair Catheryn Yashar, MD, FASTRO, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California; Science Council Vice-chair John Buatti, MD, FASTRO, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. In addition, three people were elected to the Nominating Committee: Academic physician Helen Shih, MD, MS, MPH, FASTRO, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Community practice physician Join Y. Luh, MD, St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka, California; Physicist Kristy Brock, PhD, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. The new officers' terms will begin on October 26, 2021, during the 2021 ASTRO Annual Meeting.

CMS makes changes to RO Model; Major issues persist
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to launch the Radiation Oncology Model on January 1, 2022, with minimal reductions to discount factor payment cuts and the removal of brachytherapy services from the model. According to an initial ASTRO analysis of the proposed changes, CMS did little to address the underlying punitive nature of the model on mandated participants, as the discount factor payment cuts and participation burden remain serious concerns. ASTRO is disappointed that CMS continues to largely ignore recommendations from the radiation oncology community, cancer patients, health policy experts and Congress. Read ASTRO’s summary for detailed explanation and information.

ASTRO summaries of QPP and MPFS proposed rule available
On Tuesday, July 13, CMS issued the 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule. The rule includes a policy change that would reduce payments for radiation oncology services by as much as 9% next year due to increases in clinical labor pricing for some specialties, which has the effect of lowering payments to specialties that use expensive equipment, such as radiation oncology, in the budget neutral environment for practice expense. The remaining cut is due to the December 31, 2021, expiration of the 3.75% increase in the Conversion Factor, which was secured through the passage of the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package at the end of 2020. The proposed rule also includes proposed updates to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), the MIPS Value Pathways framework, the Advanced Alternative Payment Model program and the Alternative Payment Model Performance Pathway. More information can be found in ASTRO’s MPFS summary and QPP summary.

ASTRO 2021: Register for the live Annual Meeting in Chicago risk free through September 30
At this year’s Annual Meeting, you’re invited to “attend your way!” With a variety of registration options, including in-person, Digital XP, PRO Weekend and more — there’s something for everyone! Check out the program, view the meeting highlights and make your plans now to participate in ASTRO 2021! And this year, we’re offering risk-free registration through September 30 (see Cancellation Policy). We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

Join us for tonight’s webinar: Non-resectable NSCLC ― Best Practices for the Continuum of Care
In the second installment of the Mini Con series, we’re covering Best Practices for the Continuum of Care: A Multidisciplinary Approach at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight. There’s no charge to participate, and there’s still time to register. Tonight’s webinar will be led by radiation oncologist Dawn Owen, MD, PhD, and medical oncologist Jacob Sands, MD. All webinars in this series will be recorded, and continuing education credits, including SA-CME, are available. This series is supported by an independent medical education grant from AstraZeneca.

Starting tomorrow, follow ASTRO Advocacy Day 2021 on social media
ASTRO Advocacy Day 2021 is happening tomorrow and Friday! Even if you are not participating in the event, you can join in by engaging your representatives and senators on ASTRO’s policy priorities via social media. Visit ASTRO’s Advocacy Day 2021 Resources page for more information on the policy issues and to watch our webinars covering social media engagement and more. The social media webinar covers everything from how to set up a social account to the best ways to engage and which hashtags to use. Be sure to track the hashtag #ASTROAdvocacy to follow along with the days’ events! 

ASTRO secures legislative report language regarding T&E for radiopharmaceutical
At ASTRO’s request, the bipartisan leaders of the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development subcommittee included language in their committee report supporting ASTRO's position that current training and experience requirements for radiopharmaceuticals must be maintained. While not legislative language, this committee report language accompanies federal spending bills and expresses the intent of Congress. For more information, please see What’s Happening in Washington.  

ASTRO responds to request on ARPA-H
On July 16, ASTRO submitted comments to congressional cancer research leaders on proposed legislation to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). In a letter to Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI), ASTRO noted that the organization is eager to partner with Congress and the Biden administration to advance ARPA-H for the benefit of cancer patients. The letter responded to questions regarding funding, structure, focus areas and other topics. 

New ASTRO Academy Journal courses – free Gray Zone courses for members
New courses are now available in the ASTRO Academy. Earn SA-CME credit with the latest Journal course, ATM Variants in Breast Cancer: Implications for Breast Radiotherapy Treatment Recommendations. If you’re looking for CME credits, the new Gray Zone course, Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy for Patients with Sacral Chordoma who Previously Received Carbon Ion Therapy, is also available. ASTRO members receive a discount on all Journal courses and can take the Gray Zone courses for free!

Be a leader in supporting research
You may not see your name in lights, but you will see your name listed on the ROI booth in the Exhibit Hall at the ASTRO Annual Meeting if you step up to support the Radiation Oncology Institute. Please consider making a monthly commitment of $125 per month (a total of $1,500 per year) to become a member of the ROI President’s Circle for 2021. As a leader in giving at the President’s Circle level, you will also be invited to attend an exclusive reception for ROI donors to meet the researchers you are supporting.