Merger talks between the Santa Barbara Cancer Center and Cottage Health System have been discontinued after Cancer Center doctors voted last week to reject any joint operating arrangement. Doctors cited potential loss of autonomy, loss of focus, and concerns about maintaining the center’s existing high level of quality. Cancer Center executives initiated the talks at the beginning of the year to determine whether they could achieve increased financial security by being subsumed into the greater Cottage Health System. Outpatient clinics like the Cancer Center—founded in 1949—are not compensated at the same rate for the same procedures as are hospitals. In past interviews Cancer Center executive Rick Scott said there was no imminent threat to the Cancer Center’s continued operation, but added that the long-term prognosis was less certain.


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