Imagine you are a senior citizen who has made the wise decision to have a colonoscopy procedure to test for colorectal cancer. You go into the hospital thinking screening costs will be covered under Medicare and you will not be charged coinsurance. When you wake up, you learn a polyp was discovered and removed. It was found early and removed before it became cancerous so you are relieved… until you get your bill. You now have a coinsurance charge of $100 to $300. Due to a glitch in current health care law, your “screening” has now become classified as “therapeutic” or “diagnostic” under Medicare’s billing codes, requiring you to pay for that procedure.
Recognizing this unexpected “Catch – 22” situation, U.S. Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) has introduced the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2013 (HR 1070) as a resolution to this problem. This legislation would ensure that 100 percent of the costs of cancer screening are covered under Medicare Part B, and that older Americans are not subject to unexpected cost sharing provisions if polyps are removed during a colonoscopy.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation supports this legislation and applauds Rep. Dent and the original co-sponsors of the bill: Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ).
Colorectal cancer is highly preventable, yet this year, 142,820 Americans will be diagnosed and more than 50,000 will die from the disease. Beginning at age 50, men and women should be screened regularly as the risk of colorectal cancer can increase with age. We must encourage and enable people to follow colorectal screening guidelines. For older Americans, many of whom are on fixed incomes, HR 1070 would remove a tremendous barrier for screening in a population that is most vulnerable to colorectal cancer.
For more information on our legislative activities and how to be an advocate for preventable cancers, please visit our Advocacy Action Center.