ASTRO lobbies for new radiation therapy payment bill spoke with Casey Chollet-Lipscomb, MD, who joined radiation oncologists from around the U.S. in Washington, DC, on May 20 and 21 to lobby for a recently introduced bill that proposes a new payment model for radiation therapy.

The Radiation Oncology Case Rate Value-Based Payment Program Act, or ROCR Act, was introduced in Congress last week and aims to improve the way Medicare pays for radiation therapy -- a highly effective treatment for a large portion of cancer patients, Chollet-Lipscomb noted.

"Unfortunately, in the last decade, we've seen over a 20% cut in reimbursements to radiation oncology centers through Medicare. This has a real impact on practices," she said.

The ROCR Act was introduced with bipartisan support by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), John Joyce, MD (R-PA), and Paul Tonko (D-NY). Chollet-Lipscomb said highlights have included meeting with staffers of the bill's sponsors to identify challenges in getting the billed passed this year.

"We're thankful that we have bipartisan support in the House … but I think everybody knows doing anything in a bipartisan way with Congress as it currently stands is challenging," Chollet-Lipscomb said.

Chollet-Lipscomb is vice president of physician services at Tennessee Oncology and a board member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). She noted that advocacy isn't only "Hill" visits and said that ASTRO needs its members to follow up. She encouraged members to email or call their representatives to express support for the legislation.

"We need our members to remind everybody that ROCR is out there," she said.

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