The loophole is closing — Congress includes colonoscopy loophole bill in COVID-19 relief package

The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2020 passed the U.S. House Dec. 9 and was included in the COVID-19 relief bill the Senate cleared Dec. 21. 

If the bill is signed into law, it would close a loophole for when a screening colonoscopy becomes a diagnostic procedure.

Currently, Medicare beneficiaries can receive a fully-covered screening colonoscopy, but if polyps are discovered during the screening the beneficiary is charged to test them. The costs of the diagnostic colonoscopy act as a deterrent to screening.

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., has championed the bill. He said: "Our bill ensures Medicare beneficiaries aren't charged for colonoscopies that discover polyps or any subsequent CRC screenings. We need to do everything we can to lower barriers for individuals to receive these cancer screenings because that will save lives. Our bill does just that."

David Greenwald, MD, president of the American College of Gastroenterology, said: "On behalf of the American College of Gastroenterology, I want to thank Congress for including the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (S. 668; HR 1570) in the larger spending and COVID-19 relief packages today. This legislation is long overdue and will help increase colorectal cancer screening rates in the Medicare population." 

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