Congress Works to Break Down Barriers to Colon Cancer Screening With New Legislation

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This Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, members of Congress are teaming up in a bipartisan effort to break down the barriers to colon cancer screening and combat the most preventable, yet least prevented cancer.

In order to ensure that every American has access to critical - and potentially lifesaving - colon cancer screenings, a coalition of representatives across parties have come together to introduce the Removing Barriers to Colorectcal Cancer Screening Act of 2015 [H.R. 1220].

Under current legislation, screening colonoscopies are covered by Medicare and the deductible and coinsurance associated with the procedure are waived. However, many patients find themselves unexpectedly liable for fees due to a small, but significant oversight in the current law.

If, during a screening colonoscopy procedure, a pre-cancerous polyp is detected and removed, the procedure is no longer considered a "screening," and is reclassified as a diagnostic service. This reclassification holds the patient liable for the coinsurance payment associated with colonoscopy, sometimes totalling up to $300 not including any anesthesia costs.

This flaw in the current legislation can be the difference between a patient's decision to be screened or avoid the life-saving procedure in some cases.

According to the sponsoring legislators, "The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act corrects this fragmented policy by ensuring that Medicare patients will not be required to pay coinsurance when their colorectal screening colonoscopy includes potentially lifesaving polyp removal during the screening encounter."

If passed, this law would ensure that Americans covered by Medicare could receive their recommended colon cancer screening at no cost. Hopefully, this would eliminate a major cost-related barrier to getting everyone screened for colon cancer.

Other News From Around the Web

  • A recent study conducted in England examined the impact of sharing patient experience on the willingness of other patients to be screened for colon cancer.
  • Here's an article from Baylor University advocating for genetic evaluation as part of familial colon cancer screening.
  • GI & Endoscopy wants gastroenterologists to know these 7 important facts.

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Topics: Colon Cancer News