To the editor:
My staff and I were pleased to welcome Zachary Zampella from Senator Marco Rubio's office to 21st Century Oncology's Fort Myers facility recently. Mr. Zampella's and Senator Rubio's willingness to learn more about the issues facing our community - particularly cancer patients here - is extremely important to the health and future of our residents.
I appreciated the opportunity to show Mr. Zampella the state-of-the-art technology that allows us to eradicate cancers once thought to be terminal. Advances in radiation oncology have thankfully allowed us to precisely target cancers, and to do so in convenient, comfortable outpatient centers that allow patients to access to care without having to travel to distant hospitals or specialty centers.
Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for overseeing Medicare, proposed a funding cut of 15 percent to radiation oncology and a 19 percent cut to freestanding radiation therapy providers, the highest percentage cut to any medical specialty. This would mean $300 million less for the treatment of cancer patients. This would also mean facility closures, staff layoffs and refusal of care to Medicare beneficiaries.
My staff and I are dedicated to the community in Fort Myers and to ensuring that all patients receive the care they need and deserve when confronted with a cancer diagnosis. I hope readers will join me in asking our elected officials in Washington to urge CMS to stop the proposed rule that will cut reimbursements for cancer care. It's a small step, but an important one to ensure that our friends, family, and neighbors can continue battling cancer and enjoying a high quality of life.
Constantine Mantz, MD
Chief Medical Officer
21st Century Oncology