Sen. Bob Casey advocates for Wills Eye Hospital amid Medicare dispute

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Sen. Bob Casey is now advocating for Wills Eye Hospital, and trying to make sure families and patients don't get caught in the middle and lose out on vital medical care. (WPVI)

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) visited the Wills Eye Hospital Friday morning. The facility, known for its world-class ophthalmology services, is now in a battle with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS.

Casey says CMS wants Wills Eye to stop providing in-patient services by Nov. 1 to cut costs. But in Pennsylvania, in order to be licensed as a hospital, a facility must have in-patient beds. And many complex procedures require hospital status.

"That conflict, if it were to play out fully, would result in Wills Eye, in essence, having to shut down a lot of its services," said Casey.

One of those services could be treating kids like 6-year-old Joey Povio. He was recently diagnosed with retinoblastoma, the most common eye cancer in kids.

"To hear cancer when you least expect it was devastating," said Casey Povio, Joey's mother.

His mother, Chrissy, says one thing she didn't have to worry about was the care Joey's receiving. Wills Eye treats 50 percent of all children in the U.S. diagnosed with retinoblastoma.

"This is the place to be when it comes to the eyes," said Chrissy Povio.

"The services we provide here are hospital-level services. We treat the most complex, most complicated ophthalmologic conditions found in the world," said Joseph Bilson, CEO.

If Wills Eye loses in-patient status, it will become an ambulatory surgery center. Reimbursements will be lower. More importantly, the CEO says they won't be able to offer many of those complex treatments.

"We cannot allow that to happen. Too many families in this region, in the Commonwealth, in the country, depend on Wills Eye," said Casey.
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