Support Access to Colorectal Cancer Screening

According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death in the United States when men and women are combined. This statistic is especially troubling since colorectal cancer is largely preventable due to effective screening methods. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Commission on Cancer (CoC) request your support for the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (H.R. 1017/S. 479), sponsored by Representatives Charlie Dent (R-PA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Susan Collins (R-ME), which will eliminate an unintended cost barrier for Medicare beneficiaries to life-saving colorectal cancer screening. 

Under current law, Medicare waives co-insurance and deductibles for preventative colonoscopies. However, when a polyp is discovered and removed, the procedure is reclassified as therapeutic for the purposes of Medicare billing and patients are therefore required to pay the coinsurance. This bipartisan legislation would waive Medicare’s cost-sharing requirement for preventative colonoscopies, even if a polyp or tissue is removed.

Not only is the cost-sharing obligation of current law confusing to patients, but it also results in the unintended consequence of creating a financial barrier to the most effective method of colorectal cancer prevention. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act would help to ensure that the threat of unanticipated costs do not deter a patient from having the screening performed. By removing this financial barrier, Congress would help increase screening rates and reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer.

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