Senators and representatives unite to call on CMS to protect patient access to high-quality radiation treatments

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | October 22, 2021 Rad Oncology

Senate Letter led by Senators Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Burr (R-N.C.)

A group of 18 senators led by the Senate Finance Committee's longstanding supporters of radiation oncology wrote, "We are concerned that devaluing [radiation therapy] services could have chilling effects on patient access to life-saving care and urge CMS to mitigate the impact on radiation oncology providers." They also emphasized that "We recognize the valuable role radiation therapy plays in meeting the needs of oncology patients and are concerned these proposed cuts could jeopardize access to high-quality treatment." Read the letter here.

House Letter led by Representatives Higgins (D-N.Y.) and Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)

The letter from 67 members of the House noted that, "Emerging from COVID-19, radiation oncologists are struggling to treat patients that missed screenings and now require more complex treatments for more advanced cancers," but that the extreme cuts "threaten the ability of patients, particularly underserved populations, to receive state-of-the-art care close to home." The representatives said they "remain committed to an alternative payment model for radiation therapy services that improves quality, stabilizes reimbursement, and reduces disparities, but we are concerned that these severe cuts create instability and undermine the transition to value-based payment." Read the letter here.

Caucus Letter led by Representatives Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Rush (D-Ill.)

The letter from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Native American Caucus explains that "the impact of the proposed rule could force community-based cancer clinics, many of which serve minority neighborhoods, to close their doors, lay off staff, and limit Medicare patients." It continues, "The RO Model represents a new opportunity to address health disparities in radiation therapy. Unfortunately, the proposed combined payment cuts undermine the promise of the RO Model and the chance to improve health equity," and that, "Finalizing these proposed CMS rules would undermine the Administration's ongoing efforts to eradicate cancer, and disproportionally impact vulnerable communities that already face poor access to cancer screening and care." The caucus letter will be sent to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra as well as CMS Administrator Brooks-LaSure in the next few days; email ASTRO's media team for a copy.

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