Bipartisan legislation introduced today (March 6) in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would ensure that surprise out-of-pocket expenses are not a barrier to lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings for seniors on Medicare.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteers are urging lawmakers to support and pass the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, authored by Representatives Donald Payne (D-NJ.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), and David McKinley (R-W.Va.); and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
The bill calls for eliminating cost sharing for seniors on Medicare who are hit with a surprise bill during a routine screening colonoscopy, when a polyp is discovered and removed during the procedure. Currently, Medicare covers the full cost of routine screening colonoscopies. However, if a polyp is found and removed during a screening colonoscopy, patients wake up to a pricey cost-sharing payment of up to $350. Learning about the possibility of an unexpected expense can deter people from getting screened for this type of cancer, which is highly preventable.
The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN:
“Colorectal cancer can be prevented with regularly-scheduled screenings. Unfortunately, too many seniors on Medicare are forced to forego this simple procedure because of cost. Congress has the opportunity to help reduce the burden and suffering of colorectal cancer on senior citizens by removing financial barriers to screenings.
“The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act would help ensure that everyone has access to lifesaving cancer screenings, regardless of their ability to pay. ACS CAN is calling on Congress to advance this legislation with broad bipartisan support as we work to close this Medicare coverage loophole and increase screening rates, a proven way to reduce colorectal cancer.”