Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand, Maloney, Crowley, King, Rangel, Israel Successfully Change Medicare Rule to Provide $28 Million per Year to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Nov 3, 2011

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Joe Crowley, Peter King, Charles Rangel, and Steve Israel announced that they have successfully secured a Medicare payment improvement resulting in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) receiving $28 million more each year from the federal government to provide state-of-the-art cancer care to New Yorkers. MSKCC is the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center, and one of the leading cancer centers in the United States. Due to technological and scientific advancements, which many MSKCC clinicians and researchers have played an important role, more and more cancer patients are receiving care in an outpatient setting instead of inpatient hospital stays. But payment from the federal government for this type of care has been woefully inadequate and out-of-date, creating a funding challenge for hospitals like MSKCC to advance high quality cancer care to patients.

The Final Rule that Schumer, Gillibrand, Maloney, Crowley, King, Rangel, and Israel have announced will change this inequitable predicament by increasing and adjusting the amount MSKCC and U.S. cancer hospitals like it will be paid for the high quality outpatient care that they provide. 

“With today’s announcement, we have smashed through backward bureaucratic thinking and reams of red tape to get the feds to properly support the cutting-edge cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering – to the very significant tune of $28 million dollars a year,” said Schumer. “This is a massive shot in the arm for a job-creating institution that will put more power behind Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s fight against this devastating illness that has taken the lives of far too many already.”

“New Yorkers suffering from cancer and the families that stand by them deserve the best possible care, and nothing should stand in the way,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This rule change is a critical step to arm Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the country’s leading cancer centers, with more of the resources and freedom it needs to build on the first-rate cancer care they provide, and save more lives.” 

“Memorial Sloan Kettering is a national leader in the war on cancer and a significant economic engine for our city.  This final rule recognizes how cancer care is often delivered today: in an outpatient setting.  It’s better for Medicare and better for patients,” said Congresswoman Maloney. 

“This is a great victory for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the thousands of New Yorkers who rely on the institution’s top-notch care and services every day,” said Rep. Crowley. “Not only is Memorial Sloan-Kettering one of the preeminent cancer centers in the world, but it is also an economic engine in New York, and I am proud that we achieved a new payment method that recognizes this critical role.” 

Congressman Peter King said, “Having fought hard to secure this adjustment for cancer centers, I am thrilled that CMS has finalized this rule. The reality is that more cancer patients are being treated in an outpatient setting, which is better for patients and is more efficient. This essential funding boost will enable Memorial Sloan-Kettering to continue treating patients with the highest quality of care.” 

Congressman Charles Rangel said, “I worked hard to include this payment boost in the Affordable Care Act, so I’m glad to see CMS is implementing it the way Congress intended.  Cancer care is increasingly provided in the outpatient setting, and this rule will make sure that Memorial Sloan Kettering gets paid fairly for those services, ensuring New Yorkers have continued access to their top-notch care.” 

“As more and more cancer patients receive their treatment in an outpatient setting rather than a hospital, funding like this is critical to their comfort and their doctors’ and nurses’ ability to provide them with the state of the art care that Memorial Sloane Kettering is known for,” said Rep. Steve Israel. 

Craig B. Thompson, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said, “CMS’s recent announcement is an outstanding result for all cancer patients and the war on cancer.  By providing dedicated cancer centers, like Memorial Sloan-Kettering, with Medicare outpatient payment parity with other hospitals, CMS has ameliorated some of these hospitals’ payment losses.  Due to significant advances in cancer care, more services are being provided in the outpatient setting, which is the more efficient site of care and preferred by patients and their families.  This payment equity is particularly important as MSK continues to expand its outpatient services, which will create even more jobs across New York.  We could not have achieved this result without the help of nearly the entire New York Congressional delegation, including Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, and Representatives Crowley, Higgins, Israel, King, Maloney, and Rangel.  On behalf of our cancer patients, we sincerely thank the Senators, Representatives and their staff for achieving this significant result.” 

Founded in 1884, Memorial Sloan-Kettering is one of the nation’s leading medical institutions. Each year, experts at MSKCC treat more than 400 different subtypes of cancer, and surgeons at the center perform more cancer operations than any other hospital in the nation. In this new era, cancer patients are more likely than ever to be treated in an outpatient setting as technology has allowed for more effective and precise radiation and chemotherapy treatments administered in ways that are less invasive for patients, allowing for increased and improved quality of life. The federal government, through Medicare, has unfortunately been slow to recognize the value of these changes. MSKCC, as well as 10 other leading cancer centers across the country, were being vastly underpaid by the federal government for outpatient cancer care yet are rightfully expected to provide the highest quality care.

For outpatient services, the cancer centers are currently reimbursed by Medicare approximately $0.83 on the dollar. As a result, the U.S. cancer centers’ Medicare outpatient losses have become unsustainable – $134 million per year nationwide, and growing. But the new CMS Final Rule that Schumer and Gillibrand pushed for will help MSKCC continue to be able to provide high quality cancer care in outpatient settings, so that patients can be at home with loved ones and not stuck in the hospital. 

In the 2012 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) Final Rule announced yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) resolved a payment reimbursement issue critical to MSKCC, as well as Roswell Park in Buffalo. 

In addition to its significant public health role for the community, MSKCC is a prominent employer, employing over 10,000 highly skilled jobs for New Yorkers.