AUSTIN, TX – March 1, 2021 – Beginning today, Texans covered by Medicaid with an average risk of colorectal cancer will have their screenings covered starting at age 45. The updated Medicaid policy was supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and comes in lieu of the American Cancer Society’s renewed guidelines lowering the starting age for screenings from 50 to 45.
According to the CDC, 68% of colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided with screening. Although colorectal cancer is one of the few preventable cancers, rates are on the rise among those ages 50 and under.
“If the consequences of COVID-19 have shown us anything is the critical role access to care plays in survivorship,” noted James Gray, ACS CAN Senior Government Relations Director for Texas. “We commend Texas Health and Human Services for modernizing their policy to ensure Medicaid recipients can receive life-saving screenings and look forward to the impact it will have in addressing screening gaps among our most vulnerable groups.”
Colonoscopies nationwide dropped by 90% in early April and have yet to return to regular screening rates prior to the pandemic.
“The department’s action marks a huge step in saving lives lost to cancer. Still, those outside of the Medicaid program continue to be denied coverage for their screenings,” shared Allison Rosen, colorectal cancer survivor and ACS CAN ACT Lead. “In my personal opinion, our lawmakers should follow suit and update our state law to reflect current science. Ensuring insurance coverage of ACS-recommended colorectal screening tests beginning at age 45 is an easy action that will go miles in addressing the alarming rates in Texas for one of the most preventable cancers.”
ACS CAN is committed to advancing policy change that ensures everyone has access to cancer screenings and removes barriers for populations with low screening prevalence – such as in parts of Eastern Texas.
Colorectal cancer continues to be the second leading cause of cancer death in the state. This year alone, 12% of all colorectal cancer cases will be diagnosed in people under 50.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
About Fight Colorectal Cancer
Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) is a leading patient-empowerment and advocacy organization in the United States, providing balanced and objective information on colon and rectal cancer research, treatment, and policy. We are relentless champions of hope, focused on funding promising, high-impact research endeavors while equipping advocates to influence legislation and policy for the collective good. Learn more at FightCRC.org.