Meet Thoracic Surgeon Valerie Rusch

Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS

Thoracic Surgeon

Titles

Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Surgery; Miner Family Chair in Intrathoracic Cancers

Clinical Expertise

Thoracic Surgical Oncology; Lung Cancer; Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma; Esophageal Cancer; Mediastinal Tumors; Tumors of the Chest Wall; Pulmonary and Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy; Tracheal and Bronchial Disease and Resections

New Patient Appointments

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Accepted Insurance Providers

Dr. Rusch accepts the following list of insurance providers. Select your insurance provider to see more details.

Aetna

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with Aetna HMO, POS, and PPO plans. Aetna does not include us in any of the plans you can purchase through the insurance exchanges or through Medicare. Please ask your insurance if you need a one-time referral.

Blue Cross Blue Shield

In New York State

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (Wellpoint) of New York HMO, EPO, PPO, and POS plans, with the following exceptions:

  • Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering is not an in-network provider for Empire's Medicare Managed Care plan known as Mediblue).
  • The Empire Indemnity Plan provides limited coverage for our services.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

In New Jersey

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with some Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey plans for individuals, families, and small businesses. For example, the PPO plan is in-network with our Manhattan locations.

Horizon Blue Cross HMO is only in-network with our Basking Ridge, Bergen and Monmouth locations. It does not allow access to our Manhattan facilities.

Horizon Blue Cross PPO is in network with our Basking Ridge, Bergen, Monmouth and Manhattan locations.

OMNIA Plans: Tier I EPO based plan policy is only in-network with our Basking Ridge, Bergen and Monmouth locations and does not allow access to our Manhattan sites. Tier II EPO is only in-network with our Manhattan sites if it is a blue-card plan (there would be a suitcase logo indicating PPO on the front of the card).

Other plans may only be in-network at our Basking Ridge, Bergen or Monmouth locations.

Outside New York State and New Jersey

Some, but not all, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans outside of New York and New Jersey include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider. Contact your insurance to find out if your plan provides in-network access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.

CIGNA

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with CIGNA's HMO, POS, and PPO plans. CIGNA does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.

  • If you are a New York State resident: Please ask your insurance if you need a one-time referral.
  • If you live outside of New York State: Please ask your insurance if you have in-network access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

EmblemHealth (including GHI, HIP, ConnectiCare, and Vytra)

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with EmblemHealth’s PPO, EPO, POS, and HMO plans as well as their Enhanced Care Prime Network, which supports Medicaid Managed Care and Child Health Plus and Medicare plans. Memorial Sloan Kettering is also in-network with the New York State Essential Emblem Health plan, which can be purchased on the insurance exchange. Emblem Health does not include us in any of its Medicare plans or in any of its Select Care network plans. You must bring a referral from your Emblem primary care doctor to your first appointment.

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Plus

Formerly known as Health Plus Amerigroup, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Plus is an in-network provider with Memorial Sloan Kettering. You will need a one-time referral from your primary care doctor.

Health Insurance Exchanges

We understand that there may be many complexities involved with insurance coverage purchased through the health exchange network of the Affordable Care Act. We're here to help. If you have questions about how your care will be covered by an insurance provider, or need help navigating a change in coverage, please call us at 646-227-3378; if you are not a resident of New York, you can call us at 866-248-1274. Our team is here to listen to your concerns and assist you in any way we can. We want our care to be as accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.

HealthSmart

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with HealthSmart’s Accel, HSPC, and HPO networks.

Humana

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Humana.

Interlink Health Services

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Interlink Health Services.

Lifetrac

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Lifetrac.

MagnaCare

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider for all MagnaCare health plans except those products you can buy through the insurance exchanges.

Medicaid

New York State Medicaid covers physician and hospital services at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Patients are responsible for co-payments.

We also have contractual relationships involving Medicaid Managed Care plans. MSK is an in-network provider with Medicaid NY Emblem Health (formerly known as HIP) and Medicaid NY Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HealthPlus (formerly known as Amerigroup). You will need a one-time referral from your primary care doctor.

Medicare

Hospital and physician services at Memorial Sloan Kettering are covered by standard Medicare insurance. You are responsible for co-insurance and deductible costs. 

In New York: Memorial Sloan Kettering’s New York locations are in-network with the Emblem Medicare Advantage Plans.

In New Jersey: Memorial Sloan Kettering’s  New Jersey locations in Basking Ridge, Bergen and Monmouth are in-network with the Horizon Medicare Advantage Plan. This plan is not accepted for care provided at MSK’s New York locations.

If you are enrolled in any other Medicare Advantage plan, please contact your insurance carrier to determine your benefits and coverage at Memorial Sloan Kettering since your access may be limited.

Multiplan/Beech Street/PHCS

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with some Multiplan/Beech Street/PHCS plans. Contact your insurance carrier to find out if your plan provides in-network access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Multiplan.

Multiple Insurance Plans

If you are covered by more than one insurance plan, you will want to determine your benefits from both plans. First, you need to determine which one is your primary insurance provider by contacting your employee benefits office or your insurance carriers. After you find out which is your primary insurance provider, you should then contact your insurance carrier to determine if you have access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.

MVP

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with some MVP plans. Contact your insurance carrier to find out if your plan provides in-network access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.

New York State Employee Health Insurance Plan (Empire Plan)

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider for New York State employees who have enrolled in UnitedHealthcare's Cancer Resource Services. If you have the Empire Plan, you should call Cancer Resources Services at 866-936-6002 to verify and enroll in this coverage.

Oscar

Memorial Sloan Kettering is in-network with Oscar's Circle Plus Network, a part of its Small Group Broad line that is offered only to select small business groups. Oscar does not include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider for any of its individual plans. Please confirm eligibility with your insurance carrier.

Other Coverage Options

We have agreements with several insurance companies that may provide additional coverage for cancer patients. These benefit programs include:

  • AXA Assistance USA
  • Beech Street
  • Integrated Health Plans
  • National Health Administrators
  • National Preferred Provider Network
  • UnitedHealthcare's Cancer Resource Services
  • United Resource Network
  • Veterans Choice Program
Oxford

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with Oxford’s Freedom and Liberty plans as well as the Metro Plan (which is only offered to small business groups and no longer offered as individual plans). Please confirm with your insurance if you need a one-time referral. Note: Oxford's Medicare Managed Care plan — Secure Horizon — does not include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider. Oxford does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.

QualCare

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with QualCare's PPO and HMO/POS network.

Specialty Care Management

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Specialty Care Management.

TRICARE

Hospital and physician services at Memorial Sloan Kettering are covered by TRICARE. You are responsible for co-insurance and deductible costs.

UnitedHealthcare

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with UnitedHealthCare's HMO, POS, and PPO plans. Please confirm with your insurance if a one-time referral is needed.

UnitedHealthCare's Medicare Managed Care plan does not include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider.

United does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by UnitedHealthcare.

World Trade Center Health Program

Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with the World Trade Center Health Program.

Contact and Location

Find a Convenient Location

Memorial Sloan Kettering has locations throughout New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester. These locations offers many services, including screening, chemotherapy, and medical testing.

See all locations

About Me

Education

MD, Columbia University

Residencies

General Surgery - University of Washington; Cardiothoracic Surgery - University of Washington

Fellowships

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Board Certifications

Surgery; Thoracic Surgery

I am a thoracic surgeon who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of people with cancers of the lung, airways (trachea and bronchi), esophagus, mediastinum, chest wall, and pleura (malignant pleural mesothelioma). I have 25 years of experience as a thoracic surgeon, and was among the first women in the country to be board certified in this specialty.

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My colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering and I use the highest level of technological expertise to treat our patients. But I also believe in a hands-on, person-to-person approach to ensure that my patients receive the best possible care. To minimize patients’ discomfort and the length of their hospital stay, we use minimally invasive techniques such as VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery) and the latest high-tech procedures including robotically assisted surgery whenever possible. To determine the stage of lung and other thoracic cancers, we often use EBUS (endobronchial ultrasound) and EUS (esophageal ultrasound). These techniques allow us to determine the extent of tumors without an incision.

Today’s optimal care of people with cancer depends on the close involvement and coordination of physicians in multiple specialties. Tightly integrated, multidisciplinary care is the hallmark of our approach to the management of thoracic cancers. Our Thoracic Disease Management Team meets twice a week to discuss complex patient problems at our Thoracic Tumor Board and to develop and oversee multidisciplinary research at our team research conference. With my colleagues, I am responsible for coordinating multiple research studies aimed at improving the care of our thoracic patients. We are proud of our active participation in national and international clinical trials and are studying many new ways to help people with the most difficult cancers, including better methods to diagnose cancers at an earlier stage and the testing of new cancer treatments. My own research efforts focus on the genetics and treatment of lung cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma, and esophageal cancer.

A native New Yorker, I graduated from the Lycée Français de New York and Vassar College and am fluent in both French and English. I received my MD degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, then completed residency training in general surgery and thoracic surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. After that, I spent one year at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for additional training in thoracic oncology before joining the faculty at the University of Washington for six years. In 1989, I joined the staff at MSK.

In addition to other responsibilities, I currently serve as Chair of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, as a Regent (i.e., member of the Board of Directors) of the American College of Surgeons, as Chair of the Lung and Esophagus Task Force of the American Joint Committee on Cancer, and as Chair of the Mesothelioma Subcommittee of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s Staging Committee. I contribute regularly to peer-reviewed specialty surgical and oncology journals and have written chapters on lung cancer, mesothelioma, esophageal cancer, pleural disease, and mediastinal disease for several medical textbooks.

Awards and Honors

  • Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2002-2004
  • 2013-2018)

Colleagues

Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering work as teams, with specialists from all different areas. This allows us to consider all your needs together, and to give you the best possible care.

Clinical Trials

Find a Clinical Trial for You

Memorial Sloan Kettering's doctors and scientists are constantly developing new treatments for cancer. MSK is typically running hundreds of clinical trials at a given time.

You may be able to participate in a clinical trial even if you are new to MSK. Search our online directory to find trial information and see more about who can participate.

Search clinical trials

Research and Publications

Books
Esophageal Tumors: Principles and Practice. Jobe B, Hunter J, Thomas C, Rusch VW, eds. New York: Demos Medical Publishing; 2011.

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. O’Byrne K, Rusch V, eds. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP; 2006.

Selected Book Chapters
“Lung” and “Mesothelioma.” Rusch VW, AJCC Lung, Esophageal and Mesothelioma Task Force. In: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, Fritz AG, Greene FL, Trotti A, eds. New York: Springer; 2009: Chapters 25-26.

“Diffuse malignant mesothelioma.” Rusch VW. In: General Thoracic Surgery. 7th ed. Shields TW, LoCicero J, Reed CE, Feins RH. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2009: 847-859.

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 “Lung metastasis.” Rusch VW. In: Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone; 2008: 873-884.

“Technique of extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.” Rusch VW. In: Thoracic Surgery. 3rd ed. Pearson FG, Patterson A, Cooper J, Deslauriers J, Lerut T, Luketich J, Rice T, eds. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 2008: 1186-1193.

“Pleural effusions: benign and malignant.” Rusch VW. In: Thoracic Surgery. 3rd ed. Pearson FG, Patterson A, Cooper J, Deslauriers J, Lerut T, Luketich J, Rice T, eds. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 2008: 1042-1054.

“Surgical and multimodality approaches to the management of operable malignant mesothelioma.” Boffa DJ, Rusch VW. In: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. O’Byrne K, Rusch V, eds. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP; 2006.

“Lung neoplasms.” Chang A, Martin J, Rusch VW. In: Greenfield’s Surgery: Scientific Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Mulholland MW, Maier RV, Lillemoe KD, Upchurch Jr GR, Doherty GM, eds. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2006: 1367-1431.

“Lung cancer workup and staging.” Park BJ, Rusch VW. In: Sabiston and Spencer’s Surgery of the Chest. 7th ed. Selke FW, del Nido PJ, Swanson SJ, eds. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 2005.

 

Publications on PubMed

Visit PubMed for a full listing of Dr. Rusch’s journal articles. Pubmed is an online index of research papers and other articles from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

See all on PubMed