Letter to the Editor: We need access to affordable health care | SierraSun.com

Letter to the Editor: We need access to affordable health care

Ernie Grossman, in his Sept. 16 letter, “Concerned with Spohr’s comments for hospital district,” takes issue with some of my comments published in Moonshine Ink.

Cancer is an emotional subject and we all have friends and family who are affected. Ernie, we are sorry to hear that your son is ill. I am sure he is receiving excellent care wherever he is being treated and I wish you and your son the best.

Ernie takes issue with the term “problematic” to describe the cancer center. Problematic is presenting a problem or difficulty. Synonyms are complex, complicated.

The cancer center is problematic for many reasons.

It’s questionable whether our $32 million cancer center provides more value to the community than the $134,000 Measure C approved chemotherapy suite could have provided. One of my friends received excellent cancer care here before the cancer center was built. This is problematic.

Patient volume is low. In 2013, there were 2,894 doctor visits by cancer patients. This is far below the national average of 15,392 patients visits that our four oncologists should be seeing. This is problematic.

The cancer center charges patients a 500 percent markup on chemotherapy drugs which typically cost more than $1,000 a dose. This is not problematic — it’s outrageous.

Medicare only allows a 6 percent markup on drugs. Patients with high deductible and high co-pay insurance can’t afford this and seek care in Reno or elsewhere. It is only a matter of time before insurance companies will refuse to pay these inflated markups. This is problematic.

Our community needs access to affordable care. Unfortunately, the hospital has taken an alternate path of high cost care. The current path puts the hospital in a declining spiral of lower patient visits and lower revenue. The hospital can lower costs by improving efficiency. A rejuvenated hospital board can change the direction of the hospital.

Mark Spohr, MD

Tahoe City, one of seven candidates for the Tahoe Forest Hospital District Board of Directors