New Legislation Aims to Increase Early Cancer Detection in Medicare

March 17, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  A bill re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday aims to improve access to new and innovative cancer screenings among Medicare beneficiaries in order to increase early detection of more cancers for more Americans. The Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would establish a Medicare benefit category for multi-cancer screening tests and would allow the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to use an evidence-based process to determine coverage for blood-based tests and future multi-cancer testing innovations. The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“Detecting cancer early can be the difference between life and death. When cancer is caught early, 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 test the patient and their provider deem best for them.

“With Americans ages 65 and older being more than seven times more likely than younger Americans to be diagnosed with cancer, it’s critical we work to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to new and innovative screenings. This legislation would create a direct pathway for access to multi-cancer screenings and incentivizes innovation essential to continuing progress in the fight against cancer. By modernizing Medicare and creating a benefit for multi-cancer early detection tests that would allow CMS to initiate an evidence-based coverage process following FDA approval, we can further reduce suffering and death from cancer and further our goal of reducing health disparities.

“ACS CAN is grateful to Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) for being lead sponsor on this bill and Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) for being original sponsors. We look forward to working with both the House and Senate to see it passed.”