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    Radiation centers face steep payment cuts

    ASTRO: Proposed reductions would close 30% of RT centers

    WashingtonProposed cuts by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in Medicare payments for radiation oncology services would force an estimated 30% of community-based radiation therapy centers to close their doors, according to a statement sent to CMS by the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

    READ: Health research agency could be eliminated

    In the statement, ASTRO Chief Executive Officer Laura I. Thevenot took issue with proposed payment revisions that would slash radiation oncology payments by 5%-7%, and possibly higher, depending upon the clinic’s patient population. 

    Cuts would have ‘detrimental effect’

    “The proposed cuts follow on cuts of more than 20% to freestanding centers over the last 6 years,” ASTRO said. “The additional impact of both the equipment utilization rate assumption change and the removal of direct practice expense inputs for image guidance would have a detrimental effect on the ability of many freestanding practices to remain viable. This could limit access to care for cancer patients, particularly in rural and medically underserved areas.”

    In addition to those practices that told ASTRO in a survey that they may have to close, 62% said they might have to consolidate practice locations and about 41% were concerned they would have to discontinue accepting Medicare patients.

    “The proposed cuts are too deep and too fast for many freestanding oncology centers to absorb,” Thevenot said. “We urge CMS to work with radiation oncology stakeholders to protect access to radiation therapy services by significantly limiting these proposed cuts and reconsidering several proposed policies.”

    NEXT: ASTRO took concerns to Congress

    Bob Gatty
    Bob Gatty, a former congressional aide, covers news from Washington for Urology Times.

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