Michigan mulls new $160M proton beam cancer centers

While some communities wonder if they can afford to build just one proton beam cancer center, providers have proposed roughly five such centers in Michigan. Final rulings on state certificate of need applications later this year will determine just how many centers may be approved.

Two rival providers--William Beaumont Hospitals and a cancer treatment consortium established by the University of Michigan--originally planned to jointly fund a single center and applied for a certificate of need to get state approval of the plan. Last week, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm changed all that when she vetoed the now former partners' Certificate of Need application that had already won approval from the Michigan CON Commission. In her veto letter to the commission, Granholm stated that a single collaborative approach could violate antitrust laws under the federal Sherman Act and that the U.S. Department of Justice had raised similar concerns. 

Each of the former partners plans to re-apply for a separate certificate of need approval. In fact, Beaumont Hospitals has already re-applied, having teamed with Indiana-based ProCure Treatment Centers to build its new for-profit proton beam cancer center. The University of Michigan Health Center's proton beam consortium has only filed a letter of intent, and plans to make a presentation to the state to make its case for the center in early September. The state is expected to rule on the Beaumont application by July 1. Other providers have also submitted applications that the state is expected to rule on by the end of July and the end of September. 

State business and labor leaders worry that two or more multi-million dollar cancer treatment centers could drive up health care costs for employers and individuals. Many oncologists, cancer centers, carriers and policymakers around the country also are evaluating the pros and cons of making such high-ticket investments. Proton beam therapy is a relatively new alternative to aggressive cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and more established uses of radiation. Each facility can cost as much as $200 million. 

For more information:
- check out the article at Crain's Detroit Business