December 2001

Autosomal Recession

By Michael J. Katin, MD

I never took Economics in college, which distinguishes me from most of the directors of Enron, but I remember once hearing the definition of the difference between a recession and a depression. A recession is going on when somebody you know loses his or her job. A depression is when you lose your job.

Most of us in Radiation Oncology still have jobs, but unfortunately our government took advantage of the distraction of the media by the War on Terrorism to reduce our Medicare reimbursements by a range of 5 to 9 per cent. Unheralded individuals in our specialty had worked very hard coming to an understanding with HCFA but apparently this didn't apply to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). I hope this means that if I change my name I also won't be responsible for any previous relationships.

I also don't know enough about economics to understand the fine points of resolving the 1991-redux problem of rescuing the economy while trying to carry out a major military action, but I'm honored to have been part of the solution. It appears that in addition to the traditional approaches of expanding government services and benefits (favored by the Democrats), versus cutting taxes to let the private sector do the job (favored by the Republicans), has been added the third option of reducing reimbursement for radiation oncology (favored by the Taliban).

I don't want to seem ungrateful for the opportunity to contribute to our country, but I would hope that those in charge would look around for other sources of revenue as well. I'm sure this will eventually have a silver lining, but I can't help but call attention to the mink lining for which television icon Star Jones paid $20,000 to have put into a $39.95 jean jacket she had bought from Lane Bryant. Only three conclusions can be drawn from this:

  1. It's illegal to remove a tag from a pillow, but it's not illegal to mutilate a Lane Bryant jean jacket,
  2. PETA missed the story totally, and
  3. Maybe physicians shouldn't be considered the only profession to have too much money.

email: mkatin@radiotherapy.com