publication date: Jul. 18, 2014

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By Tessa Vellek

A coalition of advocacy groups focused on colorectal cancer asked Congress to fix the loophole in Medicare coverage of colonoscopies.

The group, organized by Fight CRC and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, met July 16 to lobby for proposed legislation that would ensure cost is not a barrier to colon cancer screenings.

Under Medicare rules, routine colonoscopies are classified as a free preventative service, but there is a loophole when polyps are removed. The removal of these polyps requires a co-pay. On the other hand, private insurance is required by the Affordable Care Act to cover the entire screening procedure, regardless of whether polyps are removed.

The ‘Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act,’ (H.R. 1070 & S. 2348) sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), would eliminate cost sharing for Medicare beneficiaries.

“Colonoscopies are proven to prevent colon cancer and save lives, but any cost-sharing can be a deterrent from getting the screening,” Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said in a statement. “This important bill would help ensure that seniors would have access to lifesaving cancer screenings, regardless of their ability to pay.”

The lobbying day began with a breakfast meeting with stakeholders—patients, survivors, advocates, and health care providers—led by Dent, Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.), and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.). Advocates then held more than 60 meetings with lawmakers to ask for their support of the proposed legislation to remove barriers for colon cancer screening.

Continue reading 40-29 Advocates Lobby Congress to Close Medicare Loophole for Colonoscopy Coverage

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