The Digestive Health Physicians Association (DHPA) today applauded U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for re-introducing legislation that would remove barriers to life-saving colorectal cancer screenings and treatment.
The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (S. 479) would waive coinsurance under Medicare for colorectal cancer screening tests, regardless of whether therapeutic intervention, the removal of polyp tissue, is required during screening. Despite Medicare promoting cancer screenings as a free service, beneficiaries currently face co-pay obligations when a polyp is removed.
Colonoscopies are among the most effective cancer-prevention tools in modern medicine, as the procedure can simultaneously involve diagnosis and treatment. Colonoscopy screening is classified as a United States Preventative Services Task Force recommended screening procedure for seniors on Medicare, meaning there is no associated charge to the patient. However, if a physician detects a polyp during the procedure and removes it, the procedure is immediately classified as “therapeutic,” resulting in an unexpected expense that would fall to the patient to cover. There is no way of knowing whether a polyp will be removed before the physician performs the screening colonoscopy.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among all adults according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with two-thirds of colorectal cancers occurring in Medicare-aged individuals. When caught early, it is curable and can even be prevented.
DHPA will continue to look for opportunities to provide high quality, cost efficient healthcare to patients, and applauds these Senators for their leadership in sponsoring S. 479, The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening.
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