Purpose: An episode-based payment model, the Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model (RO-APM), has been proposed for Medicare reimbursement of radiation services provided to oncology patients. RO-APM may have significant impact on reimbursement for specific patient populations.
Methods: This investigation compares historical fee-for-service technical reimbursement estimates at a large hospital-based system to the RO-APM for advanced radiotherapy treatment of specific cancer types. These advanced techniques, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), online-adaptive SBRT, and proton therapy, were specifically chosen because they are resource intensive and are correspondingly among the most expensive radiation oncology procedures. A total of 203 Medicare patients were analyzed.
Results: RO-APM base-rate reimbursements were similar for SRS and were 38%-47% higher for SBRT. The proposed rates were 1%-31% lower for online-adaptive SBRT, and 48%-71% lower for proton therapy.
Conclusion: These data suggest that the RO-APM may have the desired effect of encouraging shorter courses of radiotherapy, such as SBRT. However, emerging technologies that require large capital and operating investments may see an overall significant reduction in proposed reimbursement.
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