Bill that would provide Medicare coverage for virtual colonoscopies introduced in the US House of Representatives

The CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act, a bi-partisan bill introduced in Congress, would provide Medicare coverage for virtual colonoscopies, which would benefit groups who are less likely to get screened for colorectal cancer.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio.

"Colorectal cancer is largely preventable thanks to effective screening tools. Ensuring access to proven screening exams through Medicare is especially important for America’s vulnerable populations," Mr. Davis said in a statement.

Virtual colonoscopies are a less invasive option for colorectal cancer screening that uses X-ray equipment to scan the large intestine for polyps, which can become cancerous. Studies have shown the availability of virtual colonoscopies raises CRC screening rates and lowers costs.

The U.S. Census Bureau National Interview Survey shows a lack of Medicare coverage means virtual colonoscopy is utilized less than traditional colonoscopies. However, virtual colonoscopies are more prevalent among Latinos and African Americans, the American College of Radiology said. Both groups are less likely overall to get screened for CRC, and cancers in these groups are more likely to be found later than in whites.

Currently, 40 states require insurance companies cover virtual colonoscopies. However, once privately insured patients turn 65, they could lose coverage, said Anne Carlson, Colon Cancer Coalition president.

According to research cited by the American College of Radiology, virtual colonoscopies are as accurate as a traditional colonoscopy for patients who are 65 and older.

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