Radiation Oncology Payment Model Start Date Delayed

October 23, 2020
Whitney J. Palmer
Whitney J. Palmer

CMS pushes launch from January 2021 to July 2021.

The radiation oncology (RO) payment model from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been pushed back from its original Jan. 1 start date.

In a statement released Thursday, Oct. 21, via Twitter, the CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the agency would postpone the payment model launch until July 2021. The decision was made based on the response from the RO community that indicated they needed more time to prepare.

The move earned gratitude from the RO community. The leadership of the American Society of Radiation Oncology published a comment, expressing their appreciation that CMS paid heed to their requests, joining the American College of Radiology in resisting the initial Jan. 1 start date. In particular, they said, COVID-19 has presented significant challenges to the specialist community.

“We are hopeful that the delay represents the first step toward full, open engagement with ASTRO on ways to ensure that the RO Model achieves our shared goals on higher quality, lower-cost cancer care,” said Theodore L. DeWeese M.D., the chair of ASTRO’s Board of Directors. “We remain seriously concerned with excessive payment cuts in the model that will cause significant financial strain on practices and risk patient access to radiation treatments.”

Once implemented, the RO model will bundle payments for a 90-day episode-of-care to radiotherapy provides who treat patients with one of 16 different types of cancers. Over five years, the anticipation is that it will save approximately $230 million.

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