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I wrote yesterday about Beth Israel hospital boss Paul Levy, and how he worked himself into a fit of pique over the fact that the SEIU had joined with religious leaders and political officials in New Haven to put off expansion of a new cancer center until the people who worked at the hospital could be paid a fair wage. In the process the union produced a “scathing report” on the hospital’s debt collection practices that led them to change their collection protocol.

But Levy is evidently of a mind that workers shouldn’t stand in the way of a new cancer center — even if they can’t afford to be treated in it themselves. As he said in 2006:

What kind of healthcare service union would stand in the way of a cancer center in New England? That strikes me as the kind of union we don’t want.

Indeed. I think that’s a very good question. Who would stand in the way of a cancer center in New England?

Well…Paul Levy:

Hospitals spar over cancer facilities

Petition supported by Beth Israel takes issue with Mass. General plan

A feud between two major Boston-based hospitals over a lucrative cancer treatment facility in the western suburbs is heating up.

Last year, Massachusetts General Hospital proposed building a $13 million cancer treatment facility at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. In February, officials at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital campus in Needham filed a 10 Taxpayer Group petition with the state opposing the project, because they already operate a nearly identical facility less than 5 miles away in Waltham.

Millions of dollars in patient revenues are at stake. State officials predict that the number of cancer patients in Massachusetts will increase 18 percent from 2000 to 2010, from 32,339 to 38,248 people. Hospitals across the state are looking to expand radiation centers, which bring in valuable reimbursements from insurers.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is: it’s okay to block the construction of a cancer center if it interferes with your corporate profits, but people should be willing to work there and live in poverty out of the goodness of their hearts.

I think we’re picking up what you’re putting down, Mr. Levy.

(photo by Tracy O.)