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Statement in response to HHS Secretary Azar’s comments on a radiation oncology alternative payment model

ARLINGTON, Va., November 8, 2018

Following comments today from Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, on an alternative payment model for radiation oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) issued the following statement from CEO Laura Thevenot:

“ASTRO greatly appreciates Secretary Azar’s remarks today on a forthcoming radiation oncology alternative payment model (RO-APM), and we’re pleased that a RO-APM is getting closer to reality. ASTRO has worked for many years to craft a viable payment model that would stabilize payments, drive adherence to nationally-recognized clinical guidelines and improve patient care. ASTRO believes its proposed RO-APM will allow radiation oncologists to participate fully in the transition to value-based care that both improves cancer outcomes and reduces costs.

ASTRO has aggressively pursued adoption of this proposed model with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), and we appreciate the opportunities we’ve had to share our ideas with the agency to bring about this needed reform. While ASTRO is enthusiastic about the prospects for a RO-APM, we have concerns about the possibility of launching a model that requires mandatory participation from all radiation oncology practices at the outset. ASTRO recognizes that mandatory and voluntary models can take many different forms, and we look forward to working with Secretary Azar and CMMI to determine the best approach for the field of radiation oncology.

ASTRO believes it is important to acknowledge that any radiation oncology payment model will represent a significant departure from the status quo. Care must be taken to protect access to treatments for all radiation oncology patients and not disadvantage certain types of practices, particularly given the very high fixed costs of running a radiation oncology clinic. ASTRO is committed to working with Secretary Azar and CMMI to ensure payment stability for radiation oncology practices and the highest quality of care for people who need radiation therapy services.”

ABOUT ASTRO

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the world’s largest radiation oncology society, with more than 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. The Society is dedicated to improving patient care through professional education and training, support for clinical practice and health policy standards, advancement of science and research, and advocacy. ASTRO publishes three medical journals, International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics, Practical Radiation Oncology and Advances in Radiation Oncology; developed and maintains an extensive patient website, RT Answers; and created the nonprofit foundation Radiation Oncology Institute. To learn more about ASTRO, visit astro.org or RTanswers.org, sign up to receive our news and follow us on our blog, Facebook and Twitter.

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