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Fight Colorectal Cancer Thanks Bipartisan Leaders for Requesting a Fix from the White House on a Medicare Error Impacting Colorectal Cancer Screening

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Key congressional committee members send letter to White House pointing out contradictions in Medicare law, asking for the removal of a “counterproductive, inconsistent and unfair” policy involving cost-sharing for colonoscopy. 

Alexandria, Va. – May 30, 2014 – Fight Colorectal Cancer is pleased to hear that President Obama received a letter today signed by several House and Senate members asking for a critical fix to Medicare law that could potentially save lives and prevent colorectal cancer. The bipartisan letter signed by several members of key congressional committees requested that the White House step in and remove the cost-sharing component to colonoscopy screening impacting Medicare patients – the issue addressed in H.R. 1070 and S. 2348. Colorectal cancer champion Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) initiated the letter.

“This is huge news and we’re pleased to see members from both parties working together on this critical issue,” said Anjee Davis, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer. “We have a true champion in Congressman Payne and we want to thank all our leaders on the Hill who continue to push the White House to explore an administrative fix to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to lifesaving screening services for colorectal cancer.”

In a unified effort, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Congressmen Joe Courtney (CT-02), Henry Waxman (CA-33), Sander Levin (MI-09), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), and Jim McDermott (WA-07) sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a change to the way Medicare handles polyp removal during colonoscopy screening. As it currently stands, seniors on Medicare may face an unexpected charge if during their colonoscopy a doctor finds a polyp and removes it.

“The power of colonoscopy is that premalignant polyps can be both diagnosed and removed in the same procedure,” said Dr. Richard Goldberg, gastrointestinal oncologist at Ohio State University Medical Center. “However the current reality is the people who benefit most from the procedure go to sleep before the procedure thinking it will be covered by insurance and wake up needing to pay the bill when a polyp is removed because their procedure gets reclassified as therapeutic rather than preventive. A patch is needed to fix this coverage gap so we can save as many lives as possible.”

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At Fight CRC’s Call-on Congress, advocates asked members of Congress to fix the Medicare cost-sharing problem.

This letter follows a concentrated effort by many groups and members of Congress over the past several years to get Medicare law fixed. Several stakeholders have worked with members of Congress to gain support, as well as directly with the White House. Some initiatives include:

  • Introduction of H.R. 1070 by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) in 2013 (69 co-sponsors)
  • Support by Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary of Health for the U.S. Health & Human Services, during the national launch of the 80% by 2018 campaign – a goal to see screening barriers removed and 80 percent of the population screened for colorectal cancer by 2018 set by members of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT)
  • Meetings with White House staff in March 2014 led by Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. and other key advocacy groups
  • Several meetings, advocacy events and lobby days by advocacy groups and professional associations
  • Introduction of S. 2348 by Sen. Sherrod Brown in May 2014, a companion bill to H.R. 1070
  • A petition circulated by Fight Colorectal Cancer in March 2014 that received over 18,000 signatures in one month by advocates wanting to see support for the fix in Medicare law impacting colonoscopy screening

“Fixing this error is a priority for Fight Colorectal Cancer and our advocates are eager to see this issue addressed,” said Davis. “With each year that passes and this goes uncorrected, seniors face a costly barrier and may not be receiving this life-saving screening. This issue has a direct impact on lives saved.”

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among all adults and 23 million people have not been screened. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 60 percent of deaths could be avoided with screening. The disease is 90 percent curable when caught at its earliest state.

About Fight Colorectal Cancer

Fight Colorectal Cancer is a leading colorectal cancer nonprofit in Washington, D.C. Through patient education, advocacy and involvement in research the group spreads awareness and demands a cure for the second-leading killer in the United States. As the leading advocacy group, the organization serves as a resource for colorectal cancer patients, grassroots advocates, policy makers, medical professionals and health care providers. Learn more at http://www.FightColorectalCancer.org.

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