News and Publications

Coding seminar reg open, looming Medicare cuts, stereotactic safety comment period closing

November 24, 2021

2021 Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium speakers share presentation highlights
Time is running out! Make your plans now to join us for the 2021 Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium December 2-4 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hear from our speakers about their presentations and why you should attend. This interactive and engaging symposium will benefit the entire treatment team! Register now and take a few minutes to plan your trip. The official program begins on Thursday, December 2; however, be sure to check the schedule for industry events beginning Wednesday evening.

Accurate coding is vital to successful practices
Do you worry about keeping up with coding best practices? Do you know the coding pitfalls to watch out for? Are you thinking about how ongoing changes in health care policy may affect coding and coverage? If you have any of these concerns, ASTRO’s December 2021 Virtual Coding and Coverage seminar is for you! The seminar addresses the many factors that affect this complex and ever-changing aspect of clinical practice, with a goal of making clinical coding easier to understand and apply to your practice. Top reasons for attending include increasing knowledge of radiation oncology coding and health care payment policies and hearing from experts on coding issues. Register now! Bonus: All registrants will receive an electronic and print version of the 2022 ASTRO Coding Resource (a $1,000 value!)

As the year ends, ASTRO advocates for legislative fix to block looming cuts
ASTRO is advocating for year-end legislation to address looming cuts to radiation therapy in the physician fee schedule and RO Model and supporting legislation that would head off additional cuts to all physicians under Medicare. ASTRO’s proposed legislative language would freeze fee schedule payments for most radiation therapy codes for five years, reduce RO Model discount factors to 3% for both professional and technical services and allow eligible freestanding centers to receive a 5% APM incentive payment for technical services under the model. ASTRO members can ask Congress to support this legislation via ASTRO’s grassroots action center. To support direct lobbying, ASTRO is running a public relations campaign featuring digital ads targeted to Capitol Hill, a video featuring pediatric cancer patient advocate Grace Eline and this Delaware News Journal Op Ed from oncology leaders in the state. ASTRO also supports bipartisan legislation (HR 6020) that would extend the Medicare physician payment adjustment of 3.75% for an additional year and is backing efforts to address other lingering payment cut threats to all physicians. For more information, go to What’s Happening in Washington. 

Registration is open for the 2022 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium
Described as “an event that goes beyond listening to expert opinion. This meeting provides the unusual opportunity to talk with peers from all across the country,” the 2022 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium takes place February 24-26, 2022, at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Arizona. It is co-sponsored by the American Head and Neck Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, ASTRO and the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer. The program provides the most up-to-date information on multidisciplinary therapies, the latest clinical research, new treatment strategies, supportive care, scientific breakthroughs and toxicity mitigation. And as an added bonus, you’ll be learning in person and sharing with your colleagues. Register now to take advantage of the early-bird rate.

The following Industry Events will be held in conjunction with the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium. Some events will offer livestreaming for those of you who are unable to attend. Please check the website for details.

Wednesday, December 1, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Industry Satellite Symposium
NSCLC Tumor Board: Multimodal Approaches to Optimize Immune Checkpoint Inhibition Strategies in Curative Settings
This activity is supported by an educational grant from Genentech, Inc. and Merck & Co., Inc.

Thursday, December 2, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
RefleXion Industry Expert-Theater
RefleXion BgRT: A New Treatment Modality for Metastatic Disease

Friday, December 3, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Novocure Industry-Expert Theater
Tumor Treating Field for the Thoracic Oncologist

Note: The content and views presented at the industry events are not part of the official 2021 Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium program. Dinner or other food and beverages may be provided by the companies, which may subject you to reporting under the Federal Sunshine Act or other state laws.

Public comment period closes soon for stereotactic safety white paper
Comments on the draft Quality and Safety Considerations in Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy: An ASTRO Safety White Paper Update can be submitted via webform through next Wednesday, December 1. This consensus-based document was initially developed in 2013 and is one in a series of white papers commissioned by the Target Safely initiative. The scope of the white paper focuses on programmatic elements and human-enabled processes that can identify and correct potential sources of error in SRS/SBRT delivery. Access the draft guideline and webform at www.astro.org/PublicComment.

Save the date: Two new upcoming eContouring webinars, free for members-in-training
On Tuesday, December 7, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, Rahul Parikh, MD, and Leslie Ballas, MD, will present eContouring for Hematologic Malignancies. This webinar will concentrate on identifying and delineating the correct anatomic regions in the target volumes and incorrectly identified target regions that could lead to long term treatment related sequelae. At 6:00 p.m. Eastern time January 24, Clifford Robinson, MD, will lead a webinar on eContouring for Cardiac Radioablation for Ventricular Tachycardia (VT). Participants will learn the basics of VT, methods to communicate with electrophysiology, basic cardiac anatomy necessary for proper target delineation and standardized methods to define a cardiac target volume using the American Heart Association 17-segment model. Webinar registrants receive access to practice cases with assigned practice contours that will be compared to those of the expert contours. These webinars are free for members-in-training and international members-in-training. ASTRO members receive a discount.

CMS applies MIPS Automatic Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Policy to the 2021 performance year
Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 PHE, CMS will apply the Automatic Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Exemption Policy (EUC) for the 2021 MIPS performance year. MIPS eligible clinicians submitting as an individual do not need to take any action to have the automatic EUC policy apply. CMS will automatically identify and re-weight all four MIPS Performance Categories to 0% and receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2023 MIPS payment year. However, if a physician or small practice participates in the 2021 MIPS program by submitting Part B quality measures through claims and has submitted quality data codes on their 2021 Medicare claims, they will need to still file a 2021 MIPS Hardship EUC to avoid a 2023 payment adjustment and be exempt from the 2021 MIPS program. Eligible clinicians reporting as a group will need to apply for the EUC to avoid a 2023 payment adjustment only if they have already submitted 2021 data. Contact MIPS@astro.org with any questions.

November 30 is not just any Tuesday!
Next Tuesday, November 30, is not just any Tuesday: It is Giving Tuesday, which celebrates the impact that giving has worldwide. It also means that your gift to the ROI will be doubled. ROI Board members Jay Hoey and Frank Wilson, MD, FASTRO, and former ROI Board member Joe Jachinowski are matching gifts on #GivingTuesday up to a total of $15,000. Your gift to the ROI now is more important than ever before. ROI’s ability to fund research in radiation oncology depends on your contributions. Take this opportunity to have your gift doubled. Mark your calendar for next Tuesday, November 30, and plan to participate in this special day of giving!