News and Publications

Early-bird deadline for Research Workshop, self-referral bill introduced, seeking public comment

April 10, 2019

Early-bird deadline is next Wednesday for the 2019 ASTRO Research Workshop
The 2019 ASTRO Research Workshop: Oligometastatic Disease: A Step Closer to the Cure takes place June 13-14, at the FHI360 Conference Center in Washington, DC. Be sure to register by next Wednesday, April 17, to take advantage of the lowest early-bird rates. Co-sponsored by ASTRO and the Radiological Society of North America, the meeting will debate the current data on the biology, physics and regulatory issues concerning oligometastatic disease and discuss the latest clinical trials. The program includes keynote speakers, oral abstract presentations and break-out sessions for small group discussions. Abstracts may be submitted through April 26. Discounted hotel rates for workshop attendees are currently available at the Washington Hilton

ASTRO-backed self-referral bill reintroduced in House
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation today that will drive greater participation in alternative payment models and reduce overutilization by closing a loophole in the physician self-referral law for radiation therapy and other services. The Promoting Integrity in Medicare Act (PIMA; HR 2143) is supported by ASTRO and other members of the Alliance for Integrity in Medicare coalition. ASTRO issued a statement from Chair Dr. Paul Harari praising the bill and provided a letter of support. For more information, go to What’s Happening in Washington.

Minimum data elements public comment now open

An ASTRO consensus paper on the minimum data elements required for radiation oncology is now open for public comment. The initial list was developed by a task group of radiation oncologists and medical physicists already working in informatics, registry and research areas. The goal of this list is to start with a small, achievable and consistent list to facilitate the myriad of use cases as well as define the minimum radiation oncology relevant data that should be included in all scenarios. Public comment on the consensus paper is open now through April 21, 2019. Contact ASTRO with any questions.

MIPS facility-based scoring in 2019
In 2019, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) allows for facility-based practices to utilize their facility’s score for the Quality and Cost performance categories. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is hosting a webinar on Thursday, April 18 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time to provide a comprehensive overview of facility-based scoring and conduct a live demonstration of the new facility-based preview feature on the QPP website. Register for the webinar and contact ASTRO with any questions.

Additional update to CMS E/M billing with SRT
We reported in February that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revised the Medicare Claims Processing Manual. The update, which allows for billing of levels I through III Evaluation and Management (E/M) to report the physician work of radiation therapy planning, radiation treatment device construction and radiation treatment management when performed on the same date of service as superficial radiation treatment (SRT) delivery (CPT code 77401), has been revised. On March 28, CMS released a transmittal to clarify that it may be necessary to append modifier 25 to the E/M codes if National Correct Coding Initiative edits apply. For more information, read the announcement and What’s Happening in Washington.

Now available: 2019 Annual Refresher Course virtual meeting
The 2019 ASTRO Annual Refresher Course Virtual Meeting is now available. This meeting provides clinicians in practice and trainees with a comprehensive review and update of the clinical practice parameters across most sub-disciplines of radiation oncology. The virtual meeting includes more than 18 hours of professionally recorded sessions with downloadable PDFs and MP3s of the faculty presentations, new notetaking and bookmarking features and improved searchable content. Sign in to receive your member’s discount.

GAO recommends steps for NRC to ensure security of high-risk radioactive material
On Thursday, April 4, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a reportCombating Nuclear Terrorism: NRC Needs to Take Additional Actions to Ensure the Security of High-Risk Radioactive Material, outlining steps the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should implement to ensure the security of high-risk radioactive material. The steps include consideration of socioeconomic consequences and fatalities from evacuations in considering security measures for materials. The Source Security Work Group, of which ASTRO is a member, released a statement on the report, and ASTRO will monitor any legislative or regulatory action as a result. For more information, please see What’s Happening in Washington.

Key congressional staff tour radiation oncology clinic
Recently, Jessica Burnell, Health Policy Adviser for Representative Brian Higgins (NY-26), toured Shady Grove Adventist Radiation Oncology Center with ASTRO member, Amar Rewari MD, MBA. Representative Higgins serves on the House Ways and Means committee; this committee has oversight authority over Medicare and other health-related federal programs. During tours, issues such as prior authorization, science research funding and the importance of a radiation oncology alternative payment model are woven into the conversation to highlight how they directly affect constituents. Read about the visit and learn more about how to host your own tour in What's Happening Washington.

Aurora BayCare and Manitowoc County receive APEx® accreditation
Congratulations to Aurora BayCare Medical Center (Green Bay, WI) and Aurora Medical Center – Manitowoc County (Two Rivers, WI) for receiving APEx accreditation. To be fully accredited, a facility must meet a majority of the APEx standards in a satisfactory manner and the accreditation status is valid for four years. View a list of accredited facilities. Contact APEx staff  for additional information on the APEx program.

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