Cancer Care Cuts - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

10/09/03

Cancer Care Cuts

Cloetis Vickery visits the Blood & Cancer Center of East Texas each week. Earlier this year, Cloetis found out she has colon cancer and needs 18 rounds of chemotherapy. She says she chose to get her treatment here at Dr. Gary Gross's center, instead of a big clinic, because of the personal attention she receives.

"I feel like I am the most important person he has. He gives you that feeling of safety. That you don't have to be concerned because he's taking care of it," she says.

But she may have to find another doctor, and another treatment center thanks to proposed medicare cuts. Texas cancer care centers stand to loose 477 million dollars in federal funding.

"My goodness if they are going to cut that -- how can he possibly stay in business," questions Cloetis.

Dr. Gross says he couldn't. More than half of the 100 patients he sees each week are on medicare.

"If the medicare changes are made as now advertised we would not, we would be out of business - we would not be able to take care of our medicare patients with cancer at this facility," says Dr. Gross.

"It would be terrible. It is like having a death sentence," explains Cloetis. "I am sure if they (Congress) had cancer and were on medicare it would be a different story. They'd be wanting to fund more money."

Mrs. Vickery and Dr. Gross are trying to convince congress not to make the medicare cuts. Both are writing members of congress asking for support.

"I think if congress really made the effort to understand the issues in cancer care they would want to support a bill that simply pays more fairly for cancer services -- and if they do that we will be able to stay in business quality of care will improve," says Dr. Gross.

The cuts wouldn't just effect Texans. Nationwide cancer centers stand to lose 16 billion dollars in funding if congress passes the cuts. Congress is also considering legislation that would benefit cancer care centers.

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