Senate Passes Legislation Expected to Save Thousands of Lives Lost to Colorectal Cancer
Addressing High Mortality Rates in the State and COVID-19 Backlog in Screenings for One of the Most Preventable Cancers
AUSTIN, TX — April 23, 2021 — With overwhelming bi-partisan support, Senate lawmakers today passed SB1028 – a bill that will eliminate a major financial barrier for Texans to receive their preventive colorectal cancer screenings. The bill was passed out of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee unanimously before being passed by the full Senate and has now been received in the House for a hearing Tuesday, April 27th.
“We applaud the Senate for advancing lifesaving legislation for Texans and thank Senators Joan Huffman and Judith Zaffirini for prioritizing colorectal cancer screenings,” shared American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Senior Government Relations Director James Gray. “Despite being preventable when screened, half of all colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented each year if every individual over 45 were able to receive their recommended colorectal cancer screenings. This bill would remove a major financial barrier that has kept thousands of Texans from receiving their lifesaving screenings.”
The American Cancer Society guidelines state that a follow-up colonoscopy in this situation should be completed without any cost to the patient as an integral part of the preventative screening process beginning at age 45 – a fact not currently reflected in Texas state law. This legislation would seek to remove cost sharing for patients who need a follow-up colonoscopy following a positive stool-based test.
Due in part to a lack of affordable screening coverage, colorectal screening rates have been dangerously low across the state even prior to the pandemic. Colorectal cancer is increasing among adults under age 50. Individuals, particularly in communities of color, are also being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at increasingly younger ages due to varying risk factors and limited access to health care which can result in a decrease in screening rates.
“I’m living proof that early detection saves lives,” shared Allison Rosen, colorectal cancer survivor and ACS CAN ACT Lead volunteer. “I’m encouraged to see lawmakers commit to such lifesaving legislation that would remove obstacles that keep thousands of Texans from getting tested for one of the most preventable cancers.”
Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in Texas. An estimated 11,280 Texas residents will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and more than 4,000 will die from the disease, numbers that have yet to reflect the effects of the pandemic.
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.