LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Medicare changes put care at risk

Published by Courier-Post
October 28, 2013

As a radiation oncologist, I see the positive impact that innovations in cancer care have on patients’ health outcomes. During my 25 years in this profession, I have witnessed incredible advancements that are extending and enhancing the quality of cancer care and improving the lives of my patients. Unfortunately, that care is at risk.

I am concerned about a proposal from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that would severely undermine the provision of a critical type of cancer care: radiation therapy provided in the community-based setting. Medicare’s payment rate for radiation therapy delivered in freestanding centers has been cut by almost 20 percent over the last decade.

CMS is now proposing yet another round of cuts. In total, the proposed rule cuts reimbursement for radiation oncology services provided in freestanding centers by almost 8 percent and some commonly billed services will be slashed more than 25 percent. Looking over multiple years, these cuts create an environment of instability that make it difficult for freestanding radiation therapy centers to operate.

To ensure access to vital services, policymakers must pursue payment stability and predictability. This can and should be achieved through comprehensive payment reform. Constantly changing the Medicare reimbursement formula only creates more instability and hardship, for patients and providers alike.

Medicare was created almost 50 years ago to provide older Americans with quality health care. It is incumbent on policymakers to correct unwise payment changes that undermine patients’ access to care when they need it most.


21st Century Oncology


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