The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, widely known as ASTRO, is a worldwide organization with more than 10,000 members. These members are all healthcare professionals (nurses, physicians, therapists, biologists and more) who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapy.
While the primary goal of this society is to improve patient care through education and training, ASTRO’s members also work toward making active strides in healthcare research and advocacy.
This combination of spreading guidance and activism has led to the formation of ASTRO Advocacy Day. During this annual event, a number of radiation oncologists travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with policymakers and legislative experts to discuss the following:
- Patient safety
- Medicare physician payments
- Physician self-referral
- Cancer research
- New health care policies on the horizon
Upon the conclusion of these meetings, the oncologists will walk away with a newfound understanding of the year’s primary legislative issues and how these will affect the world of radiology.
Topics Covered During 2018’s ASTRO Advocacy Day
This year’s ASTRO Advocacy Day occurred June 25-26 at the Washington Court Hotel, with the following themes being the primary topics of discussion:
- Preserving Access to Care Through Stable Medicare Payments and Alternative Payment Models (APMs)
- Promoting Stable Cancer Research Funding
- Avoiding Disruptions in Coverage for Cancer Patients
- Protecting Access to Radioactive Isotopes
During this year’s Advocacy Day, ASTRO also urged members of Congress to support policies that allow cancer patients to have access to high-quality healthcare. Below is an excerpt from a statement released by Brian Kavanagh, MD, MPH, FASTRO, Chair of the ASTRO Board of Directors:
“Radiation oncologists are visiting Capitol Hill to remind Congress of the multidisciplinary nature of cancer care and call for the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the nationwide transition to value-based health care.”
Continued Efforts with a Proposal for RO-AMP
During their visit, the on-site oncologists emphasized the importance of APMs, as well as their proposal for a Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model (RO-APM), which was first presented in 2017. This proposal was created in part with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, the American Society for Clinical Oncology and ADVI consulting, and has the following goals:
- Reward radiation oncologists for participation in quality initiatives
- Ensure fair, predictable payment for radiation oncologists in hospitals/cancer clinics
- Incentivize the appropriate use of cancer treatments that result in the highest quality of care and best patient outcomes
During their time in Washington, D.C., ASTRO representatives also voiced their support for recent legislation that locked reimbursement rates for key radiation therapy services through the end of 2019. This legislation would allow additional time for ASTRO to finalize development of a successful RO-APM.
“Congress must prevent any additional payment cuts to radiation therapy centers to avoid jeopardizing access to critical, life-saving services and compromising our progress toward value-based care,” said Kavanagh in regards to the proposal.
Want to Attend an Upcoming ASTRO Meeting? Here’s How You Can Join!
In addition to Advocacy Day, ASTRO has a number of live and virtual meetings that members can attend, including the following:
Not a member of the society? Sign up to attend the following upcoming non-ASTRO meetings: