C3 commented publicly this week to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the reimbursement of CT-Colonography (CTC), also known as Virtual Colonoscopies. CMS offered the opportunity to comment during their National Coverage Analysis (NCA).
The American Cancer Society, the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, and the American College of Radiology issued revised guidelines for colorectal cancer screening in March 2008. Their rigorous, evidence-based evaluation of the various screening methods resulted in the addition of CTC to the screening guidelines. This decision opened up the question whether or not Medicare should begin covering CTC the same way it covers fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs), barium enemas, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.
Despite the passage of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997, which authorized coverage for colorectal cancer screenings for Medicare recipients, colorectal cancer screenings are still very much under-used. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 60 percent of deaths could be prevented if everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly. One of the barriers to screening is patient concern about an invasive procedure such as colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy. CTC gives an attractive alternative for patients.
C3 fully supports the coverage of CTC by Medicare and believes that all Americans should have full access to credible colorectal cancer screening. In addition to submitting comments to CMS we have publicly endorsed legislation in Congress, The Virtual Screening for Cancer Act (HR 4879). This legislation would give authority to CMS to begin covering CTC under Medicare.