NAPT Joins ASTRO in Opposing CMS Payment Cuts During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Washington, DC, Oct. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) is joining the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) to raise concerns about CMS’ attempt to radically change reimbursement policy when cancer centers continue to face challenges while caring for vulnerable cancer patients during this pandemic.  On Sept. 18, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the “Specialty Care Models to Improve Quality of Care and Reduce Expenditures (CMS-5527)” final rule which includes the mandatory Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model. The RO Model mandates that 30% of randomly chosen practices participate in a five-year test that will radically change the reimbursement for radiation oncology services.

The RO Model will be implemented on January 1, 2021, a timeline that is untenable for cancer centers in the midst of managing essential cancer care for vulnerable patients during this pandemic. Jennifer Maggiore, Executive Director for the National Association for Proton Therapy explains, “Just as cancer survival rates were reaching an all-time high, the COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to those gains as cancer is diagnosed at more advanced stages due to delays in preventative care and treatment.”  For the past six months and continuing today, health care institutions providing cancer care have been burdened by the pandemic with numerous challenges including, but not limited to, safeguarding higher risk patients and employees, increased costs and decreased revenue, difficulty maintaining adequate staff, and increased costs attributed to managing care during this pandemic. All these factors create barriers for cancer patients seeking care and to health care facilities providing essential and critical cancer care services. Many radiation oncology practices are facing significantly reduced utilization and revenue due to the public’s reluctance to seek out medically necessary care. Maggiore states “The RO Model will require significant practice changes and resources in order to comply with the RO Model’s many requirements. It is wholly unrealistic to expect impacted practices and facilities to be ready to participate in the RO Model in just 12 weeks during a continuing public health emergency.”

The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) will join the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and other major stakeholders in urging CMS and Congress to significantly delay the start date of the RO Model and make reforms to alleviate the reduction in reimbursement to our health systems caring for cancer patients.

Read the NAPT Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model Executive Summary HERE 

The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1990 to educate and increase awareness about the clinical benefits of proton therapy.  Its members include 37 of the nation’s leading cancer centers some of whom are NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers and NCCN members. The mission of NAPT is to work collaboratively to raise public awareness of the clinical benefits of proton therapy, ensure patients’ choice and access to affordable proton therapy, and encourage cooperative research and innovation to advance the appropriate and cost-effective utilization of proton therapy.

CONTACT: Jennifer Maggiore
The National Association for Proton Therapy