Dr. Weeks Comments: Wow – to take a loss of $850,000 per clinic and in most instances to still be in business suggests that cancer clinics are pretty lucrative. Indeed, it is the case that oncologists buy low and sell high – chemo drugs that is. Ask your oncologist whether he or she is marking up the cost of the drug you are being sold and if so, how much a mark up. Another reason they are going under is the ascendency of Corrective Cancer Care™ which is safer and more effective and more cost effective than the standard of care.
Oncology Practices Have Lost $78 Million, Many Closing
As a result of the ongoing Medicare sequester cut to reimbursement for Part B drugs, community oncology practices in the United States have lost $78 million in just over 2 years. This amount extrapolates to an average loss of more than $847,000 for each practice, which in turn has led to an alarming rate of practice closures, forcing patients with cancer to receive more expensive care in hospital outpatient facilities.
The new findings were published online August 29 and will appear in the October issue of Evidence-Based Oncology.
The study found that sequestration had a significantly impact on all community oncology practices.
During a period of 27 months, from January 2016 to March 2018, each practice averaged an approximate 28% to 31% loss due to sequestration at the beginning of 2016. This amount remained steady for large practices, but small and medium practices began to experience a greater impact (38.4% loss in small practices, 34.7% loss in large practices). Overall, the average loss was 32% by the first quarter of 2018.
“This research quantifies what we have known for a long time — that the sequester cut has decimated the community oncology system, causing millions of Americans to lose access to high-quality, affordable cancer care close to where they live and work,” said lead author, Lucio Gordan, MD, a practicing medical oncologist/hematologist and director of quality and medical informatics at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Gainesville.
“Practices simply cannot afford to keep the lights on for patients as long as they have to absorb the hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts imposed by the sequester,” Gordan said in a statement.
Practices Struggling and Closing
According to the latest impact report from the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), 653 community oncology clinics or practices have closed, been acquired by hospitals, or undergone corporate mergers or are struggling financially, as previously reported by Medscape Medical News.
During the past 2 years, an average of 3.5 community oncology practices have closed per month, and each month since 2008, an average of 13.8 practices have been affected by closings, hospital acquisitions, or corporate mergers, according to the COA
Since 2008, 658 practices have been acquired by hospitals, which the COA says is a “dramatic shift” of community cancer care into the more expensive hospital setting.
Since the 2016 COA report, the number of community cancer clinics that have closed has increased 11.3% and the number of consolidations into the hospital setting has increased 8%.
“The sequester has added insult to injury in the world of community oncology,” Gordan told Medscape Medical News. “This type of cut has been very deleterious and nefarious to oncology.”