Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill Would Create a Pathway to Coverage for Millions of Cancer Screenings for Medicare Beneficiaries

– Senate Introduction of The Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) Act Critical to Advancing Innovative Cancer Early Detection –

June 22, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 22, 2023 – A bill introduced in the Senate this week 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 Multi-Cancer Early Detection 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. 

Lead sponsors of the Senate version of the Act include Senators Mike Bennet (D-CO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Tim Scott (R-SC). 

Because the risk of cancer increases with age, Medicare beneficiaries make up the majority of individuals diagnosed with cancer and are especially vulnerable to the disease. The Act creates a pathway to ensure timely Medicare coverage of new, innovative multi-cancer screening tests and expand access to early detection once clinical benefit is shown. 

Several innovative private and academic entities are currently developing multi-cancer early detection blood-based tests. Published early data indicate that the tests can screen for multiple cancers at the same time, including rare cancers. 

The statement below is on behalf of Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN): 

“Detecting cancer early can be the difference between life and death. While overall cancer mortality rates have been declining for more than two decades in the United States, racial, socioeconomic and geographic disparities persist and have a higher prevalence in underserved communities.  

“A simple blood test may be more accessible to such residents, extending screening opportunities to rural areas across the nation and within communities of color by ensuring Medicare recipients can access new, innovative screening options, once FDA-approved and proven effective.  

“We’re thankful to Senators Bennet, Crapo, Cardin, and Scott for championing lifesaving legislation that will be key to improving access to early detection for our most vulnerable communities and saving lives. 

“We call on Congress to prioritize passage of this important legislation this year.” 

The Act received over 300 cosponsors on both sides of the aisle in the 117th Congress. The current House version of the Act (HR2407) has 118 co-sponsors. Led by Representatives Jodey Arrington (R-TX) and Terri Sewell (D-AL).