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Medicare physician payment final rule cements more cuts to radiation oncology, underscores need for legislative fix

ARLINGTON, Va., November 2, 2023

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) issued the following statement from Jeff M. Michalski, MD, MBA, FASTRO, Chair of the ASTRO Board of Directors, in response to the final 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) released today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

“ASTRO is deeply disappointed that CMS finalized an additional 2% cut to reimbursement for radiation therapy in today’s MPFS final rule. The consistent decline in Medicare reimbursement for radiation oncology threatens to undermine patients’ access to vital cancer care across the country. The time has come for Congress to intervene with reform legislation to ensure short-term stability and long-term viability.

The additional cuts finalized today ensure that radiation oncology Medicare physician payments will have dropped by 25% from 2013 to 2024, more than nearly all other medical specialties. The continued trend of reduced reimbursement further underscores the critical need for a legislative fix for radiation oncology payments.

Earlier this year, ASTRO introduced the Radiation Oncology Case Rate (ROCR) legislative proposal, a pivotal step toward ensuring that Americans have access to essential cancer care close to home. ROCR would create a new Medicare payment system for radiation oncology that is based on the value of the care provided, rather than the volume of services, offering an innovative path to achieving stable payments, enhancing the quality of care, reducing health disparities and lowering costs for both patients and Medicare.

ASTRO also supports several legislative efforts designed to address shortcomings in the Medicare physician fee schedule, including:

  • Providing Relief and Stability for Medicare Patients Act (H.R. 3674), introduced by Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Greg Murphy, MD (R-NC) and Danny Davis (D-IL) to provide targeted relief to office-based specialists most effected by implementation of recent clinical labor price updates;
  • Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act (H.R. 2474), introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD (R-IA) and Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) to tie Medicare physician payment to inflation, as measured by the Medicare Economic Index; and
  • Provider Reimbursement Stability Act (discussion draft), released by the GOP Doctors Caucus to update the MPFS budget neutrality threshold, address budget neutrality corrections for overestimates and underestimates in utilization, provide timely updates in direct costs used to calculate practice expenses and limit year-to-year variation in the physician payment conversion factor.

ASTRO is determined to work Congress and CMS to secure the long-term stability needed for radiation oncologists to continue to deliver cutting-edge cancer care and maintain a strong focus on the value that we provide to our patients.”

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ABOUT ASTRO

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with nearly 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. Radiation therapy contributes to 40% of global cancer cures, and more than a million Americans receive radiation treatments for cancer each year. nFor information on radiation therapy, visit RTAnswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit our website and follow us on social media.