Boston hospitals duel over cancer treatment facility

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Boston-based hospitals Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital are feuding over a $13 million cancer treatment facility currently being built at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass., according to The Boston Globe.

Mass General proposed the facility in 2006. In February of this year, officials at Beth Israel filed a 10 Taxpayer Group petition opposing the project, because they already operate a similar facility less than 5 miles away in Waltham.

State officials predict that the number of Massachusetts cancer patients will increase 18 percent from 2000 to 2010, which will equate to large revenues. Hospitals in the state are looking to expand radiation centers, which reap valuable reimbursements from insurers.

The Boston Globe reported that the proposed cancer treatment center will house a linear accelerator, which is used for radiation treatments for cancer patients. Massachusetts regulators control the number of hospitals allowed to use such equipment.

According to filings with the state, Mass General's radiation treatment facility is oversubscribed and operating at 113 percent of capacity. About 55 percent of Beth Israel's Waltham patient referrals come from doctors at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, business that could be lost if the state approves the Mass General proposal.

Beth Israel has proposed a $29.6 million expansion of its hospital, including a new MRI suite. The hospital has asked the state to waive the need for approval of the project, arguing that they individually fall under the state's $13.6 million threshold for a review.

The Public Health Council, which meets once a month, will decide the issue, even though no public hearing date has been scheduled on the matter.