To estimate the impact of a large Medicare fee reduction for intensity‐modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) on its use in prostate and breast cancer patients.
We compared trends in the use of IMRT between patients treated in practices directly affected by fee reductions (for prostate cancer, men treated in urology practices that own IMRT equipment; for breast cancer, women treated in freestanding radiotherapy clinics) and patients treated in other types of practices.
Data Sources/Study Setting
We identified breast and prostate cancer patients receiving IMRT using outpatient and physician office claims. We classified urology practices based on whether they billed for IMRT and radiotherapy clinics based on whether they were reimbursed under the Physician Fee Schedule.
Between 2006 and 2015 the payment for IMRT delivered in freestanding clinics and physician offices declined by $367 (−54.7%). However, the use of IMRT increased in physician practices subject to payment cuts, both in absolute terms and relative to use in practices unaffected by the payment cut. Use of IMRT in prostate cancer patients treated at urology practices that own IMRT equipment increased by 9.1 (95% CI: 2.0‐16.2) percentage points between 2005 and 2016 relative to use in patients treated at other urology practices. Use of IMRT in breast cancer patients treated at freestanding radiotherapy centers increased by 7.5 (95% CI: −5.1 to 20.1) percentage points relative to use in patients treated at hospital‐based centers.
A steep decline in IMRT fees did not decrease IMRT use over the period from 2006 to 2015, though use has declined since 2010.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods