Patients and Physician Unite to Protect Access to IMRT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Large Urology Group Practice Association (LUGPA), the Association of Freestanding Radiation Oncology Centers (AFROC) and the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) today united to preserve access for thousands of patients stricken with cancer to life-saving cancer radiation treatments.
LUGPA, AFROC and COA submitted commentary to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) addressing the drastic effect reimbursement cuts to a variety of radiation services would have on current and future patients nationwide.
"We are dedicated to preserving access to affordable, high quality cancer care," said Dr. Deepak A. Kapoor, President of LUGPA and Chairman and CEO of Integrated Medical Professionals, PLLC. "Patients with cancer depend on this state-of-the-art treatment, which according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), has become the standard of care for many cancers. The cuts proposed by CMS will limit patients' access to advanced radiation services, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which are the preferred modalities for radiation treatments for patients with prostate and head and neck tumors."
"A cut in reimbursement to freestanding radiation therapy centers and community-based cancer practices this massive would put financial strain on community radiation oncology practices, negatively impacting patient access," said Dr. Michael J. Katin President of AFROC. "These cuts may force community treatment centers to limit services and potentially close, denying Medicare beneficiaries and other patients with cancer – especially underserved and rural populations – access to life-saving cancer treatment."
In addition to the proposed cuts in the MPFS, CMS has proposed a 3 to 5 percent increase in IMRT reimbursement under the proposed 2013 Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS).
This proposed payment increase for hospitals, combined with the proposed payment decrease for physicians, will increase the number of patients who receive IMRT in the hospital setting, increasing costs to both the Medicare program and to patients through higher co-pay and co-insurance payments.
According to the National Patient Advocate Foundation, hundreds of medical practices have already been forced to close in response to continuing Medicare reimbursement difficulties, and the 2005 Geographic Access to Care study found that 45 percent of all rural counties have no oncology service providers.
"Further IMRT cuts could prove devastating to patient access to critical life-saving cancer treatments," said Dr. David Eagle, President of COA and partner in Lake Norman Oncology, Mooresville, North Carolina. "The use of IMRT can conform a radiation dose to the contour of the tumor while minimizing the impact on surrounding healthy tissue or organs, which greatly improves outcomes for patients and limits exposure to radiation. This has led to the successful use of IMRT in treating head and neck cancer, brain tumors, localized prostate cancer and other diseases."
Patient organizations have also weighed in on the cuts by submitting comments to CMS. They include: AIDS Institute, Alliance for Aging Research, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, Blue Ribbon Advocacy Alliance, Community Oncology Alliance, H.E.A.L.S. of the South, Kidney Cancer Association, Lung Cancer Alliance, Men's Health Network, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Prostate Conditions Education Council, Prostate Health Education Network, Inc., US TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, Veterans Health Council, Vietnam Veterans of America, Women Against Prostate Cancer, ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, Amigos por la Salud, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Florida CHAIN, Florida Transplant Survivors Coalition, Inc.
LUGPA represents 115 large urology group practices in the United States, with nearly 2,000 physicians who make up more than 20 percent of the nation's practicing urologists. LUGPA and its member practices are committed to best practices, research, data collection, and benchmarking to promote quality clinical outcomes. For more information, visit lugpa.org/default.aspx.
AFROC, the Association of Freestanding Radiation Oncology Centers, was founded 25 years ago to promote the establishment and effective operation of radiation oncology treatment centers outside the large academic setting. AFROC is dedicated to increasing access of modern cancer care to the community and to promote availability of techniques for treatment, research, and management to individual or group practitioners. AFROC also serves as a voice for these practitioners in legislative matters.
COA is a non-profit organization dedicated solely to community oncology. COA was founded by community oncology to advocate for patients and providers in the community oncology setting, where the majority of Americans with cancer are treated. In nine years of existence, COA has mobilized community oncology to become more politically active, and increased awareness on Capitol Hill about the community cancer care delivery system. Additionally, COA has brought together community oncology practices from across the country to share information in order to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the cancer care they provide to their patients. For more information, visit www.communityoncology.org.
SOURCE Large Urology Group Practice Association