Legislation Would Close Medicare Colorectal Cancer Screening Loophole

March 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C – March 1, 2017 – Bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate would help eliminate cost as a barrier for seniors on Medicare trying to access lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings.

The “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act” (H.R. 1017 and S. 479) would end cost-sharing for Medicare enrollees receiving a routine screening colonoscopy when a polyp is removed. This critical legislation is sponsored by Representatives Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Colonoscopies are proven to prevent colon cancer and save lives, but any cost-sharing can deter people from getting screened. Currently, Medicare covers the full cost of routine screening colonoscopies. However, if a polyp is found and removed during a screening colonoscopy, the senior will wake up to a pricey cost-sharing payment of more than $300.

“This legislation will help ensure that all seniors have access to lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “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.”

Nearly 136,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and more than 50,000 of them will die from the disease. ACS CAN, along with more than 1,000 other public health organizations, is committed to increasing the colorectal cancer screening rate to 80 percent by 2018.

“Even though colorectal cancer is preventable, far too many Americans forego screening because of cost,” said Hansen. “By removing financial barriers to screening, Congress can help increase screening rates and reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer.”

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit


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