Dr. Hughes is actively involved in working with Ohio politicians to ensure that you have access to the healthcare that you deserve. Here is a letter that Dr. Hughes sent to our Congressman, Senators and local representatives. If you would like to help in this fight for better quality healthcare at a fair price, we recommend that you contact your representatives as well.
In sum and substance, CMS (Medicare) continues to undervalue payment to freestanding radiation oncology centers. I call your attention to a letter from the American College of Radiation Oncology that was sent to Mr. Andrew Slavitt, the acting administrator of CMS.
The most egregious finding is that CMS facility-based payments to freestanding cancer centers have declined 24.2% between 2005 and 2016, while facility-based payments to hospitals have increased 16.7%. The data are found on page 3 of the letter. The differential is enormous-40.9%
I am sure you are familiar with the legal term “Qui Bono?” I understand from my reading of a legal dictionary that the Latin words mean “As a Benefit to Whom?”
So permit me to ask you, who benefits from the proposed further reduction of CMS payments to freestanding oncology centers?
1). Certainly not Medicare patients who will pay more out of pocket for exactly the same services delivered by the exactly same equipment in the hospital verses freestanding centers.
2). Certainly not CMS and ultimately the taxpayers who will pay more for exactly the same services delivered in the hospital versus in freestanding centers.
So why single out freestanding cancer centers for continued dramatic reductions in payments? After all, freestanding radiation oncology centers now represent only a small fraction of CMS payments for radiation oncology services across the country. In fact, in the state of Ohio, only 5 freestanding cancer centers are left. The vast majority have been acquired at bargain basement prices or from bankruptcies over the past several years. So why try to drive us out of business?
Let me propose that it’s the Big Hospitals who benefit most from further reduction in payments to freestanding oncology centers. The proposed CMS reduction will be the death knell for the 5 remaining freestanding oncology centers in Ohio.
With the only competition eliminated, Big Hospitals will be emboldened to charge more for their services, especially from private carriers. CMS will have no alternative. Prices will rise, access will be limited and quality care will decrease.
RECOMMENDATION: I urge you to call Mr. Slavitt and recommend against further reduction in CMS payment to freestanding radiation oncology centers. I would request that you at least put us on par with the payment to hospitals.