Senators protest CMS funding cut for radiation oncology

A group of Senators have taken a stand against proposed cuts to Medicare payments for radiation oncology, arguing that it doesn't make sense to lump a critical treatment of this kind in with potentially overused medical imaging technologies.

Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) have sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, signed by 32 of their colleagues, arguing that cuts aimed at slowing the use of diagnostic imaging shouldn't include radiation therapy, which is used for therapy rather than testing.

Right now, the 2010 Physician Fee Schedule Proposed rule includes a 19 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement for radiation oncology, which they say will add up to reductions of as much as 44 percent for certain radiation therapy treatments.

Radiation oncologists say that such reimbursement cuts will lead to the closure of some free-standing cancer centers, leading to longer wait times for patients.

To learn more about this controversy:
- read this US Oncology press release

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