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Medicare Announces 2013 Physician Fee Schedule Including Seven Percent Cut to Radiation Oncology and Nine Percent Cut to Radiation Therapy Centers

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FAIRFAX, Va., Nov. 2, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rule on November 1, 2012, that will revise several reimbursement payment policies and rates for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) as of January 1, 2013. The changes reflect an overall seven percent reduction in payment for radiation oncology services and an overall nine percent cut to radiation therapy centers, which is less than half of the 15 percent and 19 percent cuts, respectively, that were in CMS's July 30, 2012, proposal.

CMS has modified reductions to intensity modulated radiation treatment (IMRT) and stereotactic body radiation treatment (SBRT), added a second therapist for delivery of IMRT and added seven pieces of equipment that were inadvertently deleted from IMRT delivery in the 2012 MPFS. CMS is also updating several pieces of equipment for IMRT and SBRT delivery, and the current interest rate assumption of 11 percent will be replaced with a "sliding scale approach" based on current Small Business Administration maximum interest rates for different categories of loan size.

"Nearly 65 percent of all cancer patients receive radiation treatment as part of their care. Reducing the original proposed cuts will preserve access to life-saving cancer treatment for Medicare patients nationwide," said Michael L. Steinberg, MD, FASTRO, chairman of ASTRO's Board of Directors. "While we remain concerned about the overall level of the cuts to radiation oncology, we appreciate that CMS heard our concerns, and we look forward to working with CMS and Congress to achieve meaningful payment reforms that place incentives on value rather than volume.
 
"ASTRO appreciates CMS's diligence and efforts to more accurately rate procedures and looks forward to continuing to work closely with CMS to ensure fair and accurate methods to determine rate codes through sound data and a rigorous analytical methodology," continued Steinberg. "ASTRO sincerely thanks the strong bipartisan efforts of more than 130 members of Congress from 43 states and the leading cancer patient groups nationwide who supported ASTRO's efforts to protect access to radiation oncology treatment."

ABOUT ASTRO

ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.

CONTACT: Michelle Kirkwood, 703-286-1600, michellek@astro.org
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