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Oregon Legislators and Health Care: “Treating Cancer is a Profit Center”

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In the waning days of the Oregon Legislature’s one-month supplemental session, among other hot topics, there is health care. There are lots of ways to track what is going on in Salem, including this, this, and this. The clock is ticking so speak out soon on any issue the Legislature is considering now or you think they should be considering. You can find your legislator’s contact information here.

This morning’s Oregonian had a story about the waning days of the legislative session and had a front page story by Bill Graves about Rep. Mitch Greenlick’s health care campaign, “Lawmaker always has health care answer.”

And yesterday’s Oregonian (2/20/08), had this story by Andy Dworkin, “A Powerful Tower,” with the story’s second-page heading, “Treating cancer is a profit center for hospitals,” and this excerpt:

“The tower exemplifies a hot trend: dedicating centers to lucrative areas of health care such as cancer treatment.

“Basically, what hospitals are doing is really looking at growing profit lines,” said Debra Draper, associate director of the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C. “It’s a lot about money.”

Trends in Medicare reimbursement, which many private insurance plans mimic, largely dictate what is profitable, Draper said. Diseases of the heart, blood vessels, bones, brain and spine — along with cancer — are most profitable now.

That’s why everyone, from big health systems such as Providence and Southwest Washington Medical Center to private group practices, is forming cancer or spine centers, often in separate buildings. Poor reimbursement levels explain why hospitals nationwide are cutting care for other common conditions, such as mental illness.” (Full Oregonian story, here)

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