New policy will negatively affect cancer patients

Published by Burlington County Times
Dr. David Horvick
August 17, 2012

As a radiation oncologist in Burlington County, 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 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. Most patients with cancer require radiation treatments in the course of their 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, refusing to treat Medicare patients, or even closing practice doors altogether.

I have been treating cancer patients for 25 years, and in the centers I am associated with in South Jersey, we deliver almost 10,000 treatments annually. I am committed to delivering the highest quality care to our community. For the sake of cancer patients locally and nationwide, I urge your readers to contact their Congressional representatives 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.

Dr. David Horvick
Board certified radiation oncologist
21st Century Oncology
Willingboro

See the original article here.