The national rate of colorectal cancer among Americans 50 and older dropped 30 percent in the last decade, but efforts to boost screening continue to push forward. Here are five things to know about the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act.
1. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer mortality in the United States. Under current Medicare regulations, beneficiaries do not have to pay coinsurance or a deductible for a screening colonoscopy, but in the case of polyp discovery and removal beneficiaries become responsible for coinsurance. In 2013 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal government mandated the elimination of cost-sharing for precancerous polyp removal in patients with private insurance. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (HR 1070) is designed to remove the cost-sharing obligation for Medicare patients.
2. The legislation was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 2012, according to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Representative Charles Dent (R-PA) introduced the legislation. The ASGE, in collaboration with a number of other groups, has advocated for the legislation since its introduction.
3. This year, Representative Dent partnered with the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association to release a new public service announcement promoting the importance of colonoscopy as a colon cancer prevention and early detection tool. "ASCA strongly endorses H.R. 1070, and Representative Dent's advocacy for colorectal cancer screening will save lives," said ASCA CEO William Prentice, in the ASCA report.
4. On May 12, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced he will introduce the legislation to the Senate this week. This is the first time the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act will reach the Senate floor. "We thank Sen. Brown for introducing this important legislation in the Senate. Not enough people are being screened for colorectal cancer and this cost-sharing creates unforeseen financial burdens in those patients that benefit most from screening: those with colon polyps. Ultimately, this change in procedural classification discourages the use of colonoscopy, a life-saving exam," said ASGE president Colleen M. Schmitt, MD, MHS, FASGE, in the ASGE report.
5. The legislation, if passed, will be beneficial in meeting the "80 by 2018" goal established by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. The "80 by 2018" initiative aims to boost the national colorectal cancer screening rate to 80 percent by 2018. Groups such as the ASGE and American College of Gastroenterology are partnering with the roundtable, founded by the American Cancer Society and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to achieve that goal.
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