Need for Logical, Predictable Payment Reform

For a number of years, freestanding radiation therapy centers have faced considerable reimbursement risk. For example, under Medicare's complex physician fee schedule formula, payments to freestanding radiation therapy centers were recently subject to proposed cuts on the order of 20 percent in a single year. In addition, multiple years of smaller actual cuts have had significant cumulative effects of almost 20 percent over the last decade.

Payment volatility is particularly burdensome to this field of medicine. Radiation therapy equipment such as the linear accelerator can cost well over $2 million and is typically financed with a 7-year loan. Without stable and predictable payment schedules for radiation therapy services beyond a single year, such loans become riskier and more difficult to obtain.

Such payment volatility discourages the establishment of freestanding radiation therapy centers and discourages facilities from upgrading their equipment. Any future large payment cuts could result in a reduction in the number of freestanding facilities, which would have obvious negative implications for access to cancer care.

Such payment volatility discourages the establishment of freestanding radiation therapy centers and discourages facilities from upgrading their equipment. Any future large payment cuts could result in a reduction in the number of freestanding facilities, which would have obvious negative implications for access to cancer care.

Freestanding radiation therapy centers represent a vital component of cancer care and are often located in underserved and critical access areas. It is a core mission of the RTA to ensure that patients continue to have access to needed radiation therapy treatments and that freestanding radiation therapy centers can rely on predictable reimbursement for such services.

The RTA is committed to the pursuit of fundamental payment reform with three specific goals:
1. Improved incentives for appropriate care through the establishment of bundled payments for care.
2. Payment stability and predictability achieved through the establishment of an independent payment rule for freestanding radiation therapy facilities.
3. Collecting and reporting of relevant patient and treatment data to a registry in order to improve the treatment of care over time.