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A Device to Kill Cancer ... or Just Lift Revenue?

About a third of Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with prostate cancer today are treated with a form of radiation therapy called IMRT. Almost no patients received this treatment as recently as eight years ago.

The rise in the use of IMRT, however, is less about new technology than financial incentives. An exemption in a federal law governing patient referrals has allowed groups of urologists to team up with radiation oncologists to get lucrative IMRT reimbursements from Medicare.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Critics, including some independent radiation oncologists who are losing business, say the urology groups steer many patients toward IMRT for financial gain, drawn by Medicare payments that can reach $40,000 per patient, depending on the state.”

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