Thursday, April 9, 2009 | 10:38 a.m.
CARSON CITY – On a partisan vote, the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee has approved a bill to require that University Medical Center re-open its out-patient cancer center.
Committee Democrats voted for Assembly Bill 433. Republicans opposed it.
Before approving the measure, the committee amended the bill to require treatment of indigent patients residing in Clark County. The bill would have required University Medical Center to open its doors to indigent patients from across the state.
After testifying before the committee on Wednesday, UMC CEO Kathy Silver said the bill wouldn’t address the lack of funds needed to operate the center.
The controversial decision to close the public hospital’s cancer center wasn’t an easy one, but was made because the county faces a deficit of more than $70 million this fiscal year and could be in the hole $90 million next fiscal year, she said. Silver told the committee it would take $3.5 million to re-open the clinic and operate at the same level.
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the decision to close the clinic -- the subject of a segment on Sunday’s “60 Minutes” television program -- was “unacceptable.”
“People are dying,” Leslie said, adding that she couldn’t understand why UMC and Clark County could not come up with a way to keep the center operating.
Silver said UMC is in talks with two groups interested in re-opening the public hospital’s out-patient cancer center. She did not identify the two groups.