(Fairfax, VA, Tuesday, March 24, 2015) â€“ The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is committed to meaningful reforms that will provide high-quality, safe, life-saving radiation therapy to the more than one million cancer patients treated each year. Thatâ€™s why more than 100 members of the society are in Washington, D.C. today for the 12th annual Advocacy Day. Radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation oncology residents and other members of the treatment team will be meeting with congressional members from their home states today to protect patientsâ€™ access to high quality cancer care.
ASTRO is urging Congress: to stabilize reimbursements for critical radiation therapy for cancer patients; to close a loophole in the federal physician self-referral law that is compromising patient care; to provide sustainable and predictable funding for cancer research; and, to support medical education residency programs to train specialty physicians including radiation oncologists.
Geraldine M. Jacobson, MD, MPH, MBA, chair of ASTROâ€™s Government Relations Council, chair/professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, West Virginia University addresses the ASTROâ€™s Advocacy Day efforts.
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO VOICE OUR CONCERNS AND GET INVOLVED IN SERIOUS DISCUSSIONS WITH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE CURRENT â€śPATCHâ€ť TO THE SUSTAINABLE GROWTH RATE FORMULA EXPIRES AT THE END OF THIS MONTH. IF THEY DO NOT AGREE ON THE CURRENT PROPOSAL FOR A PERMANENT FIX, PHYSICIANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WILL FACE A TWENTY-ONE PERCENT CUT IN MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT. THIS COULD HAVE A SIGNIFICANT NEGATIVE EFFECT ON OUR ABILITY TO TREAT OUR CANCER PATIENTS, THE MAJORITY OF WHOM ARE ALSO MEDICARE PATIENTS. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE REFORMS ARE SOUND AND PROVIDE LIFE-SAVING RADIATION THERAPY TO OUR PATIENTS.
RESEARCH AND CLINICAL TRIALS ARE CRITICAL TO THE INNOVATION OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND TREATMENTS THAT CAN IMPROVE CANCER SURVIVAL AND CURES. WE URGE CONGRESS TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR ALL CANCER RESEARCH AND RADIATION ONCOLOGY-SPECIFIC RESEARCH. MORE THAN ONE MILLION PATIENTS EACH YEAR ARE TREATED WITH RADIATION THERAPY TO HELP CURE THEIR CANCER, AND WE MUST CONTINUE TO INVEST IN THE RIGOROUS RESEARCH THAT WILL ALLOW US TO SAVE MORE LIVES. INNOVATIVE RESEARCH IS OUR BEST HOPE TO IMPROVE PATIENT OUTCOMES AND QUALITY OF LIFE.
For more information, visit www.astro.org.