VA enlists ACR for RT accreditations; H&N date change

August 1, 2008

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has selected the American College of Radiology to accredit 33 VA hospital radiation oncology facilities nationwide.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has selected the American College of Radiology to accredit 33 VA hospital radiation oncology facilities nationwide. The accreditation process will take 3 years and includes self-assessment modules, external audits, personnel reviews, equipment specifications, patient safety reviews, and quality assurance activities. ACR currently oversees accreditation of more than 200 radiation oncology institutions in the United States.

In other radiation oncology news, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology has lowered prices on bound copies of its patient brochures to $5 for ASTRO members and $7.50 for nonmembers for 50 brochures. The price of the Radiation Therapy for Cancer booklet has been lowered to $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers for 25 booklets.

Also, the date for the ASTRO-sponsored Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Symposium has changed. The meeting will now take place in January 2010 instead of January 2009. The meeting will still be held in Phoenix, Arizona. Starting in 2010, the symposium will be held every other year, according to an ASTRO spokesperson.

Bexxar, Zevalin rate freeze extended

The current reimbursement rates for the radiopharmaceuticals tositumomab and iodine-131 tositumomab (Bexxar) and ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin) have been extended by the US Congress through passage of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008. Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed reducing the rates. Bexxar and Zevalin are FDA-approved to treat patients with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma whose disease no longer responds to chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The current reimbursement rates for Bexxar and Zevalin are $10,554.47 and $15,159.66, respectively, significantly lower than the actual cost of the drugs: $20,000 per dose.