DearColleague.us

Letter

Edward Markey

From the office of:

Edward Markey

From: The Honorable Devin Nunes
Sent By: caitlin.shannon@mail.house.gov
Date: 8/31/2015

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in sending the letter below to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in response to the devastating cuts to radiation oncology providers in the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule.

In CMS’ proposed rule, radiation oncology services would face a three percent overall cut. Freestanding cancer centers would be subject to approximately a six percent payment cut. Further, the proposed rule could cut payments for specific cancer treatments that have been deemed “over treated” by CMS, such as breast and prostate cancer, by upwards of 25 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Access to community-based radiation therapy services is critical for cancer treatment, particularly in rural and underserved areas. Due to inadequate reimbursement rates, 313 cancer treatment facilities have closed and more than 544 practices have either merged or become affiliated with hospitals over the past eight years. The cuts proposed in the 2016 physician fee schedule could contribute to closure of more community oncology centers and further jeopardize patient access to this effective treatment option.

We urge you to sign this letter asking CMS to reconsider the proposal to reduce reimbursements to community-based radiation oncology providers. If you are interested in joining as a cosigner, please contact Caitlin Shannon at Caitlin.Shannon@mail.house.gov or Bill Kutson at William.Kutson@mail.house.gov in Congressman Nunes’ office or Jeff Morgan at Jeff.Morgan@mail.house.gov in Congressman Tonko’s office.

Sincerely,

Devin Nunes (CA-22) and Paul Tonko (NY-20)

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Sept XX, 2015

 

Mr. Andy Slavitt

Acting Administrator

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Hubert H. Humphrey Building

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Acting Administrator Slavitt,

We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recent proposal to cut Medicare payments to radiation oncology providers in the physician fee schedule for calendar year 2016. We recognize the valuable role community-based radiation therapy plays in meeting patients’ oncology needs and we are concerned that the proposed cuts could further jeopardize patient access to this treatment option.

As you know, radiation oncology is an import cancer treatment option in the battle against cancer, offering patients less invasive care on an outpatient basis that allows many patients to continue living their lives while receiving this treatment. Yet, if CMS’ proposed rule is finalized, radiation oncology services would face another three percent overall cut, while freestanding cancer centers would be subject to approximately a six percent payment cut. These cuts could particularly adversely impact patients with breast and prostate cancer because the proposed rule could cut payments for care for these patients by 25 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

The latest proposed cuts follow a disturbing trend of proposed cuts in recent years that has resulted in cumulative payment reductions totaling approximately 20 percent for freestanding cancer centers. We remain not only concerned about the latest proposed cuts to radiation oncology proposed in the 2016 physician fee schedule rule, but also about the repeated proposals in recent years to further cut reimbursement for this care. It is critical that patients have access to quality and timely cancer care in their communities. Therefore, we look forward to working with you to ensure that community-based radiation oncologists have the payment stability necessary to ensure our constituents have access to the radiation oncology care they need, including continued dialogue regarding potential legislative options that achieve these goals.

We strongly urge CMS to reconsider the proposed cuts to radiation therapy in the 2016 physician fee schedule final rule and look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of our nation’s cancer patients. Thanks you in advance for your consideration on these important matters.

Sincerely,