ASCA is pleased to announce that the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act was reintroduced March 6 by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME); and Representatives Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Donald McEachin (D-VA) and David McKinley (R-WV).
Under current law, seniors covered by Medicare are eligible for colorectal cancer screenings without cost sharing. However, if a physician takes a further preventive action - like removing a polyp - during the screening, the procedure is billed as a “treatment” rather than a “screening,” and the cost is passed on to the patient. Because it is impossible to know in advance if a polyp will be removed during a screening colonoscopy, Medicare beneficiaries do not know whether or not their screening will be fully covered until the procedure is over.
This policy is counter to the intent of the law and is confusing to providers and patients. The financial barrier that coinsurance creates (approximately $100-$300 depending on site of service) may lead to Medicare beneficiaries choosing not to receive this highly-effective method of colorectal cancer prevention.
The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act would fix this discrepancy by waiving Medicare’s cost-sharing requirement for preventive screening colonoscopies, even if a polyp or tissue is removed. Medicare-aged individuals account for two-thirds of colorectal cancer diagnoses. By making this commonsense fix to current law, we can improve health outcomes and save money for seniors and their families.