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Proton center may have 'turned a corner'

July 17, 2008

The Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute, which has been a money-loser since opening in 2004, expects to turn a $1.5 million profit in the coming fiscal year, according to The Herald-Times of Bloomington.

The Bloomington center, co-owned by Clarian Health and Indiana University, is attracting more patients and getting better reimbursement from the federal Medicare program.

IU's Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis is taking over administration of the center. IU and Clarian officials hope the closer connection to Indianapolis will add five to 10 patients per day to the current level of 45 a day.

The center is one of only five proton therapy centers in the nation. It accelerates protons into a beam of radiation that stops the ability of cancerous cells to spread. X-ray therapy does the same thing, but proton therapy can deliver high doses of radiation more precisely, minimizing exposure to healthy tissues and organs.

Low reimbursement rates set by a state Medicare representative working as a consultant through through Indianapolis-based Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield have hurt the center. Free-standing proton centers in Texas and Florida receive reimbursement rates 30 percent to 35 percent higher than in Indiana.

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