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On May 12, the South Florida Proton Therapy Institute issued a warning to its investors: It had a week’s worth of cash left and had to dip into a reserve fund to pay off debt.

The proton beam therapy center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham fired off a similar warning that same day. It had a little more than three months of cash on hand and also was struggling to make debt payments.


But the longtime financial strains at those and other similar centers, which house large machines that zap cancerous tumors in a more targeted fashion than traditional radiation, aren’t scaring anyone off. In fact, three other health entities — one in Connecticut, one in Texas, and another in Arkansas — are partnering with the same group that runs the two struggling facilities, Proton International, to build new centers in the next few years. Tax incentives, political photo ops, and grandiose characterizations of “cutting-edge” technology accompanied the announcements.

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