AFROC is a national membership organization founded in 1987 to promote the interests of freestanding radiation oncology centers. It is comprised of a network of physicians, physicists, administrators, therapists, nurses, nutritionists, counselors, and other allied health care professionals who are dedicated to the provision of high quality cancer care in settings that are not owned or operated by hospitals, promoting cost-effective treatment in the context of the highest standard of care.
AFROC is the premier forum addressing private-practice issues unique to freestanding centers, and focuses its efforts on regulatory, legislative, and socioeconomic issues that affect non-hospital cancer centers. In particular, since its inception, AFROC has been singularly successful in representing freestanding radiation oncology centers before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with respect to Medicare payment and regulatory issues.
- It was AFROC that conducted the first cost survey of freestanding radiation oncology centers accepted by Medicare for use in establishing payment rates for technical component services.
- It was AFROC that spearheaded efforts to obtain an exception to physician self-referral requirements for radiation oncology services ordered by radiation oncologists.
- It was AFROC that conducted the cost survey of freestanding centers that was accepted by Medicare when technical component payment became “resource based.”
- It was AFROC that convinced Medicare not to use cost data from hospital-based radiation oncologists in establishing technical component rates in 2010.
- It was AFROC that submitted most of the IMRT cost data upon which IMRT technical component allowances were initially based.
- It was AFROC that spearheaded the effort to convince Medicare to refrain from adopting new CPT codes in 2016, an initiative that prevented IMRT payment reductions from doubling that year.
- It was AFROC that helped obtain a court decision finding that the supervising physician for treatment in freestanding centers need not be a radiation oncologist.
Now, our members are facing new obstacles, arising from new alternative payment models, episode-based payment, and hospital acquisitions. We urge you to become a member of AFROC—to help us help you face the significant challenges developing as the result of our transitioning healthcare system.
I am writing to you as President of the Association of Freestanding Radiation Oncology Centers (AFROC) to ask for your support in allowing the Association to continue to represent the interests of freestanding radiation oncology centers. AFROC’s continued representation of freestanding centers over the coming year and beyond is critical in light of the challenges we currently face.
While Medicare payment for the technical component of radiation oncology centers has been essentially frozen through the end of 2019, it is anticipated that the Medicare program will reconsider substantial Medicare payment reductions that were put on hold when the freeze was enacted. At that time, it was anticipated that, by 2019, THIS YEAR, a voluntary episode-based payment demonstration program would be available to freestanding facilities as an alternative to Physician Fee Schedule rates—but no such demonstration program has materialized, nor does it appear likely to materialize in the near future, absent strong leadership from freestanding centers. AFROC needs your support to convince Congress to either further extend the freeze or to help design a workable alternative by the end of 2019.
In addition, we need AFROC to help steer us through the possible transition to episode-based payments. . In an RFI outlining its New Directions and in a Report to Congress, both issued in November, 2017, the CMS Innovation Center (CMMI) made it clear that it is considering expanding a medical oncology focused demonstration project––the Oncology Care Model –to include radiation oncology episodes. The Oncology Care Model places medical oncologists at the center of cancer patient management and “at risk” financially for the provision of radiation oncology services. Yet, this model includes no requirement for clinical input from radiation oncologists. The potential expansion of this model in its current form to radiation oncology episodes has the potential to marginalize our specialty. AFROC has the expertise to help ensure that whatever episode based payment model emerges for radiation oncology takes our needs into account.
Finally, AFROC offers its membership unique benefits. The 2019 Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, DC, concentrating on critical issues of technology and government relations. In addition, members who have joined as of January, 2019, will be entitled to a half hour consultation with AFROC legal counsel on an issue of your choice, free of charge.
Over the past thirty-two years, AFROC has served as a highly effective representative of freestanding centers. I hope that you will join me in sustaining AFROC as the highly effective proponent of our interests that it has always been. Join AFROC now to help assure the continued survival of freestanding radiation oncology centers as a vital component of the Nation’s cancer treatment capabilities.
Michael J. Katin, MD
Board of Directors
Michael J. Katin, MD, FACP, FACR, FACRO, Florida
President of the Board
Robert D. Hesselgesser, MD, California
Matthew W. Allen, MD, California
Dwight L. Fitch, MD, Florida
Linda A Filipczak, RN, BSN, MBA, Michigan
Jeffrey D. Forman, MD, FACR, Michigan
Denise Gooch, MD, Maryland
Vladimir Ioffe, MD, Maryland