UPDATED: Congress to Address Medicare Cost-Sharing Loophole for Colorectal Cancer Screening

December 9, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation that would ensure surprise out-of-pocket expenses are not a barrier to lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings for seniors on Medicare is expected to be taken up by the House of Representatives this week.

The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act will be considered as part of HR 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act and is also included in HR 19, the Lower Costs More Cures Act. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act would eliminate cost-sharing for seniors on Medicare who are hit with a surprise bill during a routine screening colonoscopy when a polyp is discovered and removed during the same procedure. Under current law, Medicare covers the full costs of a preventive screening colonoscopy. However, if a polyp is found and removed during that preventive procedure, patients wake up to a pricey cost-sharing bill often totaling several hundred dollars. Evidence shows that any cost-sharing can deter people from getting a preventive, and potentially life-saving, screening.

Following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):  

“We know colorectal cancer can be prevented with regularly-scheduled screenings. Yet too many seniors on Medicare choose to forego this simple procedure because of cost. We applaud House lawmakers for taking the opportunity to help reduce the burden and suffering of colorectal cancer on senior citizens by advancing legislation to remove financial barriers to screenings.

“Closing this loophole for seniors on Medicare has been a longtime priority for ACS CAN and legislation our volunteers in congressional districts across the country have tirelessly advocated for. The bill has unwavering bipartisan support with 335 sponsors in the House of Representatives and 60 sponsors in the US Senate. We thank Reps. Donald Payne, Rodney Davis, Donald McEachin and David McKinley for their work to move this important policy forward.

“The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act would ensure everyone on Medicare has access to life-saving cancer screenings by eliminating unexpected out-of-pocket expenses. More than 145,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and over 51,000 of them will die from the disease. ACS CAN is committed to increasing colorectal cancer screening rates, and removing financial barriers to screening would help increase screening rates and save more lives from this preventable disease.”


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