Chris Hansen, ACS CAN President

ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse shares her views on the impact of advocacy on the cancer fight.


Advocates Join Forces and Push Congress to Pass Critical Colorectal Cancer Bill

March 20, 2018

Joint post between ACS CAN President Chris Hansen and Fight Colorectal Cancer President Anjee Davis

ACS CAN and Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) teamed up today on Capitol Hill to draw attention to colorectal cancer and the role public policy plays in helping reduce the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. for men and women combined.

Advocates started their day hearing from a variety of speakers including several members of Congress, professional race car driver Scott Lagasse, Jr., Dr. Mark Pochapin from the American College of Gastroenterology and Dr. Lisa Richardson from the Centers for Disease Control about progress made through the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable’s “80 percent by 2018” campaign—an effort of more than 1,500 organizations to get age-appropriate colorectal screening rates to 80 percent and to substantially reduce colorectal cancer as a major public health problem. 

Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer of the American Cancer Society, told attendees at a Capitol Hill briefing about the importance of timely and affordable colorectal cancer screenings. When adults get colorectal cancer screenings, the disease can be detected early—when it’s most treatable—or can be prevented by removing polyps before they become cancerous. Colonoscopies are proven to save lives, but evidence shows cost sharing can deter people from getting screened.

While routine screening colonoscopies are supposed to be free for seniors on Medicare, a loophole in current law leaves seniors on the hook for  co-insurance up to 20% if a polyp is found and removed during the procedure.  This cost can be a real burden to seniors on a fixed budget and is sometimes enough to deter individuals from getting this potentially lifesaving screening.  The “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act” (H.R. 1017 and S. 479) would correct this problem and close the loophole so seniors don’t have to worry about out-of-pocket costs for their screenings. The bill already has 42 bipartisan co-sponsors in the Senate and 249 in the House.

Advocates took a message of urgency on the bill and headed out to meet with their lawmakers, conducting more than 200 legislative meetings in one day and pressing immediate action on this lifesaving legislation.

They told lawmakers how the bill will help ensure that all seniors have access to lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings, regardless of their ability to pay. More seniors getting screened will result in fewer cases of colorectal cancer, less treatment-associated costs and, most importantly, fewer needless deaths from a disease that can be detected and prevented.

In 2018 more than 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and over 50,000 will die from the disease.  The personal stories, conviction and compassion of those affected by this disease certainly left an impression in Washington today. Now it’s up to lawmakers to take their stories and translate it into legislative action.