News and Publications

Proposed prior auth relief, RO workforce statement, Best of ASTRO On Demand

January 6, 2021

CMS proposed rule aims to bring prior authorization relief
On December 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Reducing Provider and Patient Burden by Improving Prior Authorization Processes and Promoting Patients’ Electronic Access to Health Information CMS-9123-P proposed rule. Intended to streamline prior authorization processes and facilitate better electronic exchange of health care information, this rule would require Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP) and Qualified Health Payers to utilize systems that streamline documentation requirements and allow for electronic submission and approval of prior authorization requests. The proposed rule is a promising step toward reducing the burden of prior authorization and affording greater transparency for both providers and patients. While ASTRO generally agrees with CMS’ proposals, we strongly encouraged CMS to also apply prior authorization reforms to Medicare Advantage plans to alleviate undue hardship. Read What’s Happening in Washington for more information about the proposed rule and ASTRO’s comments.

The future of our field

In recognition of ongoing questions about the expansion in residency training positions and their impact on the field, the ASTRO Board of Directors issued a position statement: The future of the U.S. radiation oncology workforce. This new blog post from ASTRO Chair Thomas Eichler, MD, FASTRO, discusses this topic and includes the newly released position statement. Read more.

Last days to register for ASTRO’s 2021 Virtual Coding and Coverage Seminar
Registration for the 2021 Virtual Coding and Coverage Seminar, to be held on January 9, closes this Friday, January 8. Seminar participants will utilize the Zoom webinar platform to view presentations and interact live with our distinguished faculty panel on specific coding topics. All seminar registrants will receive access to the 2021 Coding Resource and to the E/M coding webinar. Check out the seminar web page to learn more and register.

The Best of ASTRO On Demand course now available
ASTRO is pleased to announce a new learning activity, the 2020 Best of ASTRO On Demand Course, is available at ASTRO Academy. The course includes overviews of the 12 best abstracts presented at the 2020 ASTRO Annual Meeting. These overviews are created by the track chairs of the scientific sessions and are provided in both video and audio formats. PDF slides of the presentations are also included as resources. You can claim up to 11.50 CME credits through this course, available on ASTRO Academy.

The Best of ASTRO licensing now available
In an effort to share the most important scientific studies related to radiation oncology throughout the world, ASTRO has created a program that allows organizations to license the Best of ASTRO content and hold an officially licensed live or virtual meeting in their own country now through June 30, 2021.The 2020 Best of ASTRO officially licensed meeting content is now available for licensing. Learn more.

ASTRO-Industry Research Training Fellowship program registration open through Friday
Attention U.S. based resident physicians: Applications are being accepted through this Friday, January 8, for the ASTRO-AstraZeneca and ASTRO-Varian Radiation Oncology Research Training Fellowships. Apply today to expand your research skills and gain real-world experience working in an industry setting for up to one year. The anticipated start of the fellowships is July 2021. All applications must be submitted through ProposalCentral. Please contact science@astro.org with any questions and see the website for more details on this and other opportunities.

Farewell and thank you to Dr. Lee, founding editor-in-chief of PRO

ASTRO wishes to express our sincerest appreciation to W. Robert Lee, MD, MS, MEd, FASTRO, for his steadfast service over the past decade as the founding editor-in-chief of Practical Radiation Oncology (PRO). In large part due to his diligence and dedication, PRO has become a leading clinical practice journal. Over the past 10 years under Dr. Lee’s leadership, the journal has published ASTRO’s clinical practice guidelines and consensus statements, earned MEDLINE indexing and established an impressive Impact Factor. In his final editorial, Gratitude Is the Attitude: Acknowledgments After 10 Years with Practical Radiation Oncology, Dr. Lee reflects on his term. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors and thank him on behalf of our readers for his many years of dedication. We look forward to the next chapter of PRO and welcome Robert Amdur, MD, as the new editor-in-chief.

ASTRO Advocacy Day 2020: Zoom edition recap
With the release of the RO Model, steep cuts in the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and increased prior authorization delays, ASTRO’s Advocacy team knew that holding the annual Advocacy Day was critical, despite the pandemic. The original April event dates were canceled in early March, but following ASTRO’s successful virtual Annual Meeting, the Advocacy team moved forward with a virtual Advocacy Day experience November 19 – 20, 2020. To gauge the success of the event, the team posed questions to participants. Read their responses in a recent ASTRO Blog post.

Cancer Center of Putnam receives APEx accreditation
Congratulations to Cancer Center of Putnam, in Palatka, Florida, for completing ASTRO’s APEx - Accreditation Program for Excellence®. 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 APEx-accredited facilities, and contact ASTRO staff for additional information on how your practice can earn the prestigious APEx accreditation. APEx accreditation — The Right Choice for radiation oncology practices.