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JCM, Vol. 10, Pages 4706: Assessment of MRI-Linac Economics under the RO-APM

Journal of Clinical Medicine doi: 10.3390/jcm10204706

Russell F. Palm
Kurt G. Eicher
Austin J. Sim
Susan Peneguy
Stephen A. Rosenberg
Stuart Wasserman
Peter A. S. Johnstone

The implementation of the radiation oncology alternative payment model (RO-APM) has raised concerns regarding the development of MRI-guided adaptive radiotherapy (MRgART). We sought to compare technical fee reimbursement under Fee-For-Service (FFS) to the proposed RO-APM for a typical MRI-Linac (MRL) patient load and distribution of 200 patients. In an exploratory aim, a modifier was added to the RO-APM (mRO-APM) to account for the resources necessary to provide this care. Traditional Medicare FFS reimbursement rates were compared to the diagnosis-based reimbursement in the RO-APM. Reimbursement for all selected diagnoses were lower in the RO-APM compared to FFS, with the largest differences in the adaptive treatments for lung cancer (−89%) and pancreatic cancer (−83%). The total annual reimbursement discrepancy amounted to −78%. Without implementation of adaptive replanning there was no difference in reimbursement in breast, colorectal and prostate cancer between RO-APM and mRO-APM. Accommodating online adaptive treatments in the mRO-APM would result in a reimbursement difference from the FFS model of −47% for lung cancer and −46% for pancreatic cancer, mitigating the overall annual reimbursement difference to −54%. Even with adjustment, the implementation of MRgART as a new treatment strategy is susceptible under the RO-APM.

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