CRANBURY, N.J., December 8, 2021 – The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) signed a letter in support of other advocacy organizations urging congressional leaders to pass legislation to prevent massive Medicare payment cuts to radiation oncology.
As part of its policy changes for calendar year 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed to cut radiation oncology reimbursement by approximately 8% (or nearly $150 million) under the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and by $150 million under the Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model (RO Model).
These changes have met with opposition from the medical community, with the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) leading the effort calling on CMS to reconsider its decisions. Dave Adler, ASTRO’s Vice President of Advocacy, described the impact these payment cuts would have on practices:
- They will have difficulty financially supporting the sophisticated technology
- High-skill staff essential for a modern radiation therapy clinic could not be supported
- Practices treating underserved populations will be hit hardest
There would also be a potential negative impact on access to high-quality radiation oncology care:
- Reduce access to high-quality care close to patients’ homes. Community-based practices will experience payment instability
- Exacerbate healthcare disparities in cancer treatment among rural and minority populations
- Patients could present with more advanced stage disease requiring more expensive treatment
AONN+ leaders believe the payment cuts have the potential to exacerbate healthcare disparities as people are still struggling through the pandemic.
Jamie Callahan, Chair of the AONN+ Policy & Advocacy Committee, said, “this directly impacts patients, and one committee member pointed out that with more late-stage diagnoses due to COVID delays, radiation will be more important as a treatment modality. We should do everything we can to make sure patients are still able to access this treatment.”
This collective voice of AONN+ supports a core competency of navigation to assist patients in accessing cancer care and navigating healthcare systems. Navigators assess barriers to care and engage patients and families in creating potential solutions to financial, practical, and social challenges.
Since 2014, CMS has explored potential ways to test an episode-based payment model for radiotherapy services. According to a summary on the CMS website, the proposed RO Model would test whether making site-neutral payments to physician practices, including free-standing radiation therapy centers, would reduce Medicare expenditures while “preserving or enhancing the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.”
As a result of disruptions during the pandemic, the model’s planned implementation has been extended twice. The new start date of the model is January 1, 2022.
About the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, Inc
The Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, Inc (AONN+), is the largest national specialty organization dedicated to improving patient care and quality of life by defining, enhancing, and promoting the role of oncology nurse and patient navigators. The organization, which has more than 8900 members, was founded in 2009 to provide a network for all professionals involved and interested in patient navigation and survivorship care services in order to better manage the complexities of the cancer treatment process.
About Amplity Health
Amplity Health proudly serves as co-founder and association management company of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) and the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care (AVBCC).
The true partner of global healthcare companies, Amplity Health continually challenges the boundaries of medical and commercial strategies to accelerate the approval and launch of new drugs to improve the lives of patients. We are proud of our inclusive culture and our EPIIC values. Amplity has the expertise, global infrastructure, and data-driven insights to help clients overcome their medical and commercial challenges.
Amplity’s wide-ranging capabilities include clinical and medical outsourced teams; clinical and medical capability development; companion diagnostic and precision medicine solutions; medical communications; expert engagement; remote and field solutions for patients, payers, and physicians; and strategic and access consulting. Amplity’s one-of-a-kind Insights database offers clients a detailed view into patient–provider interactions and provider treatment rationale not found through any other provider.
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