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House votes to close colorectal cancer screening loophole

ACS CAN urges the Senate to take up the bill.

On Dec. 9, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act that would phase out surprise out-of-pocket expenses that can act as a barrier to lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings for Medicare beneficiaries.

Colorectal cancer screenings are covered in full under private health insurance plans as a result of the preventive care provisions of the Affordable Care Act. However, a loophole in Medicare allows for cost-sharing if a polyp is discovered and removed during a screening colonoscopy resulting in Medicare beneficiaries receiving a surprise bill after the procedure, often in the hundreds of dollars. Evidence shows that any potential cost-sharing can deter people from getting a preventive, and potentially lifesaving, screening.

The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“In a show of strong, bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken a stand to protect more Americans from colorectal cancer. We know colorectal cancer can be prevented with regular screenings, and that it is more treatable when found early. Yet too many individuals on Medicare are forced to forego this procedure due to the fear of an unexpected cost. Thanks to the House of Representatives’ action today to phase out cost-sharing for colorectal cancer screenings in Medicare, we can further reduce suffering and death from this preventable disease.”

“Closing the loophole that allows Medicare to charge seniors cost-sharing for colonoscopies when a polyp is found and removed has been a longtime priority for ACS CAN. Our volunteers have worked tirelessly with their Members of Congress to extend to Medicare beneficiaries the coverage and peace of mind that individuals on private health plans currently enjoy.

“With nearly 150,000 individuals in America expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year alone and more than 53,000 estimated to die from the disease, ACS CAN and our volunteers across the country strongly urge the Senate to take up and pass this important policy before the end of the 116th Congress. Doing so will help increase colorectal cancer screenings rates and save lives.”


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