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Medicare Cuts Will Force Many Cancer Centers To Close, Stop Seeing Medicare Patients, Lay Off Staff, According To ASTRO Survey
Date:7/27/2009

e Americans. However, this CMS proposal would do just the opposite: limit access through longer waits to begin treatment, less time with doctors and longer, costlier drives to receive treatment."

Five-hundred-fifteen individuals responded to ASTRO's survey. For community-based practices, in the face of 30 percent cuts, two out of five say they would close their practice. Forty-seven percent of rural practices say they would close. Sixty percent of community practices with multiple locations will consolidate their practices. Among those community practices able to stay open, 54 percent say they will no longer accept Medicare patients and 68 percent say they will limit the number of Medicare patients they treat.

If the cuts force radiation oncologists to consolidate or close their practices, 43 percent said their cancer patients would be forced to travel more than 50 miles round-trip, for radiation therapy treatments. In rural areas, 81 percent reported that patients would have to travel more than 50 miles. Overall, 97 percent of community practices said the quality of care for cancer patients receiving radiation therapy would suffer due to the cuts.

"My center is not viable at greater than 20 percent cuts, and patients already drive an hour to us. They then would drive nearly two hours one-way to the next center. We are the primary service center for six rural counties and we are barely holding on as it is now in the recession. About four of 10 patients now have no insurance, and we treat them. With these Medicare cuts, we will be forced to close," said a survey respondent from rural North Carolina.

Congressional leaders urge CMS to reconsider

ASTRO is running a series of ads on WTOP, Politico, Congressional Quarterly Today, Roll Call and in an AARP publication to raise public awareness of the proposed cuts and to encourage citizens to ask members of Congress to sign
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SOURCE American Society for Radiation Oncology
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