December 2, 2019
The radiation oncology community shouldn’t pay much attention to a federal regulatory notice suggesting a delay in the Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model (RO Model), according to ASTRO’s advocacy team. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions includes a listing for Specialty Care Models to Improve Quality of Care and Reduce Expenditures, which included the RO Model, and noted a final action date of July 2022. Per federal statute, CMS is required to publish a timeline that cannot exceed three years for the issuance of final regulations based on the previous publication of proposed regulations. The RO Model was issued as a proposed rule on July 18, 2019, thus the three-year timeline has been set for July 2022. According to the notice, CMS does not intend to delay publishing a final rule for three-years, if it is able to publish one sooner. ASTRO, which is in contact with Medicare officials, believes the Unified Agenda notice is procedural and not reflective of CMS’ plans to finalize the RO Model. While exact timing is unknown, ASTRO expects Medicare will publish a final rule and implement the RO Model in 2020. ASTRO continues urging CMS to move forward implementation of the RO Model starting in July 2020 with significant revisions to the scope and payment methodology. ASTRO also is working with Congress to improve the model before it is finalized.