Legislation Introduced in House Aims to Increase Early Cancer Detection in Medicare

March 30, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill introduced in the House today aims to improve future equitable access to new and innovative cancer screenings among Medicare beneficiaries in order to increase early detection of more cancers for more individuals. The Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would allow Medicare to cover multi-cancer screening tests, once approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and proven to have clinical benefit. The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“The evidence overwhelmingly supports that detecting cancer earlier can be the difference between life and death. When cancer is detected at an earlier stage, it is often easier and less costly to treat, and patients are more likely to survive. The importance of early detection has been made clear with widespread adoption of screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies, leading to a substantial reduction in mortality. As science evolves, so should Medicare coverage of multi-cancer screening tests to ensure patients have access to the screening that the patient and their provider deem most appropriate for them.

"The risk of developing cancer increases with age. Fifty-seven percent of people diagnosed with cancer in the US are 65 and older. Therefore, it’s critical we work to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have equitable access to new and innovative screenings. This legislation would create a coverage pathway for multi-cancer screenings once approved by the FDA and clinical benefit is shown. This bill will modernize Medicare, allowing the agency to determine coverage of multi-cancer early detection tests once FDA approved and when clinical benefit is shown, resulting in further reducing suffering and death from cancer for everyone.

“ACS CAN is grateful to Representatives Jodey Arrington (R-TX19) and Teri Sewell (D-AL7) for being lead sponsors on this bill. We look forward to working with Congress to see it passed this year.”



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