May 5, 2020
On May 4, ASTRO sent a letter to Congressional leadership detailing the dire conditions facing America’s radiation oncology care providers and their patients in order to guide the next phase of COVID-19 related legislation. The letter includes data from ASTRO recent national impact survey, which illustrates the current and future obstacles to radiation oncology practices. A summary of preliminary findings from respondents shows 87% reporting a decline in patient volumes, 92% reporting financial revenue declines of greater than 10%, and 69% experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
While the present picture is already bleak, ASTRO also raises alarms of future declines in patient volumes causing a prolonged burden in the months to come. These declines in volumes have already and will continue to lead to practice having to scale back or even close their doors thus endangering countless patients. To address these problems, ASTRO urges Congress, among other things, to provide additional funding through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund and loans from Small Business Administration programs, to reform the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Accelerated and Advanced Payments program, and to stabilize Medicare Physician Payments. ASTRO also calls on Congress to grant CMS the authority to suspend all federally funded payer prior authorization requirements during the outbreak in an effort to ensure timely access to care outside of the burdens and obstacles caused by the pandemic. Finally, ASTRO urges the inclusion of 501(c)(6) organizations, like ASTRO, in the eligibility for Paycheck Protection Program Loans so that these groups can continue to support the needs of our members while they focus on the needs of their patients.