LITTLE ROCK, AR – Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill (Senate Bill 309 now ACT 779) into law that ensures insurance coverage of colorectal screenings for men and women across Arkansas starting at the age of 45 and removes cost-sharing for a follow-up colonoscopy following a positive stool-based screening test. The new law would align with the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended screening guidelines for colorectal cancer. The effective date for the law is January 1, 2022.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action (ACS CAN) Arkansas Board President Dr. Jamie Byrne-McCollum released the following statement:
“We applaud Governor Hutchinson for signing this bill into law. Although colorectal cancer is one of the few preventable cancers, it remains the second leading cause of cancer death in Arkansas. Early detection of cancer through screening can improve results when treatment is more effective. This new law is expected to save lives and reduce suffering.
“Due in part to a lack of affordable screening coverage, rates have been dangerously low across the state even prior to the pandemic. Individuals, particularly in communities of color, are also being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at increasingly younger ages due to varying risk factors and limited access to health care which can result in a decrease in screening rates.
“This law removes a major financial barrier keeping thousands of Arkansans from receiving their recommended screenings. We encourage everyone eligible to be screened for colorectal cancer.”
Bill Sponsor Senator Missy Irvin said:
“An estimated 58% of all colorectal cancer deaths in 2020 were due to non-screening. This new law will remove a major financial barrier that has kept thousands of Arkansans from receiving recommended screenings. We all know the importance of early detection and these screenings are key in detecting cancer early and saving lives.”
Bill Sponsor Representative Fred Allen added:
“Colorectal cancer is increasing among adults under age 50 and is now the third leading cause of cancer death in young adults. This new law will allow colon cancer to be detected early when treatment is more likely to be successful. Thanks to this new measure, obstacles that prevent Arkansans from getting tested for one of the most preventable cancers will be removed.”
Fight Colorectal Cancer President, Anjee Davis said:
"Fight Colorectal Cancer applauds all the incredible colorectal cancer advocates in Arkansas that helped get this important legislation over the finish line. Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented if caught early and it is more important now than ever that we remove barriers and increase access to this life-saving screening. Thank you to Senator Irvin, Representative Allen and Governor Hutchinson for prioritizing colorectal cancer screening."
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.