Fiscal cliff legislation could spell doom for Gamma Knife of Spokane

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by DANIELLE GRANT & KREM.com

NWCN.com

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 4:50 PM

SPOKANE -- A local caner treatment center is now in jeopardy of shutting down.  It stems from specific wording in the fiscal cliff bill.  The legislation could significantly cut funding to Gamma Knife of Spokane.

Gamma Knife of Spokane is one of 130 tumor-treating centers across the country.  It is one of the top 10 facilities of its kind.

Managing partner of Gamma Knife of Spokane, Bo Cook, calls it a travesty.  According to section 634 of the fiscal bill cliff, it specifically makes cuts to this type of technology.

"They did it without any reference to medical ethics, voter input or physician input," said Cook.  "The legislation did it out of due process."

Boiled down, Medicare would cut reimbursements by nearly 40%.  Private insurers base their rates on Medicare.  Cook said inevitably, their reimbursement rates would drop as well.  Bottom-line, there will not be enough money coming in.

"It's not; Medicare is paying less, big deal.  It's a big deal, everything goes down," said Cook.

Like any business, they can't stay afloat providing services and paying for them too.  Cook claims it is not about the money.  It is about giving the 200 patients they treat a year a chance at life and giving them the care they need.
 
"Patients will have sub-par treatment because someone snuck this on the backside of this bill," said Cook.

Cook is upset because of the lack of due process.  The bill came to senators three minutes before the vote was due.  Cook said he is not giving up, calling on legislators to do their part until the section is removed.  If that does not happen, Gamma Knife of Spokane could stay open for another four months before being forced to close their doors.

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