Cancer docs fight over Twin Cities turf

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The Star Tribune has the story of two cancer treatment operations that are engaged in a high-priced battle over a proposed new radiation facility in Woodbury.

The newspaper reports that Minnesota Oncology and Minneapolis Radiation Oncology have spent a combined $4 million lobbying the Minnesota Legislature since 2007, when lawmakers imposed a moratorium on new radiation treatment facilities in 14 counties, including the Twin Cities.

Minnesota Oncology wants to establish the cancer center in Woodbury, and its rival Minneapolis Radiation Oncology is leaning on lawmakers to keep the moratorium in place, the newspaper reports. MRO argues there are already 19 radiation centers in the Twin Cities and another would raise health care costs, the Star Tribune says, while Minnesota Oncology officials say they wouldn't pursue the new center if there wasn't a need.

Lawmakers this session are mulling whether to keep the moratorium in place until 2020, the Star Tribune says. Legislators have said they were concerned about private radiation centers funneling money away from hospitals, which rely on money generated from cancer treatments to help pay their operating costs.

A compromise worked out last session, which allows hospital-affiliated radiation centers to open, benefitted the Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury, the Woodbury Bulletin reported. But the compromise did not help Minnesota Oncology.

Political observer Sarah Janecek blogged last year about the fortunes at stake in the battle, noting that MRO founder Dr. Robert E. Haselow and his wife had given more than $450,000 to Minnesota political candidates, parties and party units.

Retired oncologist Irv Lerner, a consultant to Minnesota Oncology, in an opinion piece last year wrote that the fight to solidify the moratorium does not put patients' interests first.

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