CMS proposes indefinite delay of radiation oncology payment model

The way that CMS pays for radiation therapy treatments has been delayed once more after the federal agency proposed a new rule April 6.

In the proposal, CMS says its radiation oncology model is being delayed from Jan. 1, 2023, "to a date to be determined through future rulemaking."

It's not the first time the federal agency has postponed the start date for its radiation oncology model, which was originally set for July 2021. The model was delayed again until January 2022, and then again until Jan. 1, 2023.

The payment model has received fierce criticism from oncologists, who claim the move would endanger Medicare access to cancer treatments.

The proposed radiation oncology model aims to pay oncologists and hospital outpatient sites for total episodes of care. It will test prospective, bundled payments to providers for 16 cancer types, and payments would cover 90-day episodes.

"There is a substantial cost to continue funding preparation for implementation of the model," CMS said in its proposal. "For example, funding is needed for CMS to prepare for participant onboarding, claims systems changes and updates to the data used in the model's design and participant-specific payment amounts, among a number of other activities."

CMS also said that funding a model that could still face future delays might take resources from other payment models. The agency is taking feedback on the delay or potential amendments to the model's payment process.

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