Mar 08 2019
Miss. Senator’s Bill Would Remove Barriers to Care for Life-Saving Colorectal Cancer Screenings
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., this week reintroduced legislation to protect seniors from out-of-pocket costs for preventive colonoscopies. The “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act,” S.668, would remedy a flaw in existing Medicare policy to ensure seniors are not charged for a colonoscopy unexpectedly. Colorectal cancer screenings via colonoscopy are promoted as a free service under Medicare, but seniors are charged for the procedure if a polyp or harmful tissue is removed.
“This legislation would provide a much-needed fix to current Medicare policy regarding colonoscopies,” Wicker said. “Most colorectal cancer is preventable, making these screenings vital to saving lives. Seniors should not have to worry about the threat of unexpected medical costs when considering whether to pursue this effective preventive care.”
Removing harmful tissue during these procedures is key to preventing cancer, yet the fear of having to pay has prevented some Medicare recipients from getting these important screenings.
Because there is no way of knowing whether a polyp will be removed during a screening colonoscopy in advance, Medicare beneficiaries do not know whether their screening colonoscopy will be fully covered until after the procedure is over.
The “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act” would correct this discrepancy by waiving cost-sharing under Medicare for preventive colonoscopies, even if a polyp or tissue is removed.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women combined. However, when detected early, it is curable and often can be prevented.
Wicker introduced the legislation with U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Cardin, D-Md.