Final Rule: No OPPS cap; ASTRO helps avert major cuts
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on November 23 that it is holding off on a major policy change to cap freestanding technical payment rates at the outpatient level, thereby agreeing with ASTRO's arguments and sparing freestanding centers from significant cuts. While the 2014 final Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) estimates a positive 1 percent impact on radiation oncology—a major gain from cuts of 5 percent proposed for the specialty in July—ASTRO believes that freestanding centers still will experience payment reductions in 2014, primarily from changes to the Medicare price index and other policies impacting the practice expense component (equipment, non-physician labor and supplies) of the physician global payment. ASTRO is very concerned about yet another year of payment cuts facing freestanding members and continues to advocate with CMS and Congress for more stable and equitable payments for radiation oncology services. ASTRO has prepared detailed summaries of both the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Hospital Outpatient Regulations. Members are encouraged to participate in the ASTRO 2014 Final Rules Webinar hosted by David Beyer, MD, FASTRO, and Najeeb Mohideen, MD, on December 11 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time to learn more about the changes and new CPT codes.