New proposed rule continues cuts to Medicare reimbursement; legislative remedies needed to protect patients’ access to care

July 14, 2023
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) issued the following statement from Geraldine M. Jacobson, MD, MBA, MPH, FASTRO, Chair of the ASTRO Board of Directors, in response to the proposed 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) released today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

“Another year brings another round of cuts to radiation therapy services for people with cancer under the proposed Medicare fee schedule. ASTRO is disappointed that CMS once again undervalues the impact of radiation oncology and intends to cut reimbursement by an additional 2% in 2024 for this essential cornerstone of cancer care.

Medicare spends less on all radiation therapy services than it does on just three top cancer drugs, although radiation is utilized by twice as many beneficiaries. Despite this outsized value, CMS has cut radiation oncology physician fee schedule payments by over 20% in the last decade – more than nearly all other physician specialties.

The ongoing cuts to radiation oncology reimbursement, coupled with broader cuts to Medicare services, threaten to decrease patients' ability to receive vital, high-value cancer care close to home by driving practice consolidation and undermining the viability of smaller practices. These cuts also underscore the need for long-term, overarching reimbursement reform that will ensure patients can access the care they need.

ASTRO, the leading medical society for radiation oncology with 10,000 members who are physicians, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapy, recently introduced Radiation Oncology Case Rates (ROCR), a legislative proposal for radiation oncology payment reform. We look forward to working with our Congressional champions to pass the bipartisan Providing Relief and Stability for Medicare Patients Act of 2023 (H.R. 3674) to mitigate the impact of clinical labor cuts. In addition, we need to advance ROCR to increase patient access to care, improve the quality of cancer treatments, reduce disparities for rural and underserved patients, and lower Medicare and patient costs.”

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.

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