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Legislation introduced to guarantee free colorectal cancer screening for all medicare beneficiaries
Date:3/1/2012

Colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening saves lives, but a loophole in current Medicare law may cause patients to think twice before undergoing this vital test. Legislation introduced today seeks to ensure that colorectal cancer screening for all Medicare beneficiaries is free, as intended.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act waives the coinsurance and deductible for many cancer screening testsi, including colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), which screen for colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy is a unique screening test because gastroenterologists are able to remove precancerous polyps and small cancers during the screening procedure. Under Medicare billing rules, removal of any polyp reclassifies the screening as a therapeutic procedure, for which patients will receive an unexpected coinsurance bill.

The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2012 introduced today by Rep. Charlie Dent, R-PA, waives the coinsurance for a screening colonoscopy regardless of whether a polyp or lesion is found. Under current Medicare policy, the beneficiary deductible is waived regardless of whether a polyp or lesion is found. Congressman Dent's bill applies the same rational policy to beneficiary coinsurance.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) have been advocating for the past year and half that Congress corrects this "cost-sharing" problem, which continues to cause confusion for patients and providers.

Cost sharing creates financial barriers, which could discourage the use of colonoscopy. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2012 is critical to achieving higher screening rates and reducing the incidence of colorectal cancer. Almost 38 percent of U.S. adults age 50 and older have never been screened, despite the fa
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Contact: Jessica Duncan
jduncan@gastro.org
301-941-2625
American Gastroenterological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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