ASTRO and ACR Victory in Delaying CMS RO Model

The Centers of Medicare and Medicare Services has heard the pleas in the letter written and signed by the American Society for Radiation Oncology and The American College of Radiology regarding their bundled payment model.

The model was set to start on Jan. 1; however, they asked for it to be delayed by six months to a year out of fear that the model will cause radiology clinics everywhere to suffer while they are already dealing with the overwhelming nature of the pandemic.

Seema Verma announced on Wednesday, “The [CMS] team and I have listened to the feedback from [the American Society for Radiation Oncology] and the radiation oncology community regarding the start date of the new Radiation Oncology Model and understand that more time is needed to prepare,” she tweeted Oct. 21, calling the initiative “an important part of our strategy to strengthen Medicare and improve cancer care for patients across our country.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services first released the RO Model on September 18, aiming to save the agency $230 million over the next five years. It also aimed to create a predictable payment system for cancer care, and push the use of cost-effective treatments. It would affect about 30% of all eligible Medicare radiology clinics nationally, which that ACR claimed is far too high to start with. They recommended, in fact, that participation in the model become voluntary and then slowly be implemented after its success with voluntary clinics.

ASTRO said Wednesday that it “appreciates” CMS’ decision to postpone, calling the announcement “an important recognition of the radiation oncology community’s concerns.”

Now it’s left to see how the radiology oncology community is fairing closer to July 1, 2021.