Letter to the Editor: $300 million taken from cancer care

Published by Casa Grande Dispatch
Shahid Latif, MD
August 8, 2012

Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:

As a radiation oncologist providing care to cancer patients here in Casa Grande for the last 11 years, I wanted to share an issue that could affect the cancer treatment of a great many of our friends and neighbors.

Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington, D.C., proposed a change to the way freestanding radiation oncology practices are reimbursed for their services. The end result is a $300 million cut to cancer care, which will have unfortunate consequences for patients who require radiation treatment as part of their cancer care.

Freestanding radiation oncology practices like mine allow patients to receive beneficial, targeted radiation therapy in a comfortable, outpatient setting. Radiation therapy controls the spread of some cancers and is able to relieve pain and other symptoms. Patients can receive treatment and go home the same day — which most patients prefer over being admitted to the hospital.

The proposed funding reduction for radiation oncology is drastic (the highest percentage cut to any medical specialty) and will be widely felt. Practices like mine will have to make difficult decisions including having to lay off staff, refuse treating Medicare patients and even closing practice doors altogether.

For the sake of cancer patients locally and nationwide, I urge your readers to contact their members of Congress and ask them to intervene with CMS before this cut is enacted. Battling cancer is a difficult road as it is; we shouldn’t make it any harder.

Shahid Latif, MD
Radiation Oncology
Casa Grande

See the original article here.