New Bill in Congress Aims to Save Seniors' Lives

Representative Charlie Dent

Legislation was introduced in Congress today that will correct an oversight to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires Medicare beneficiaries to pay coinsurance when their screening colonoscopy also involves the removal of a polyp or cancer. When a screening colonoscopy turns therapeutic, the cost to the Medicare patient is significant – $100 to $300 – and it could serve as a deterrent to screening.

The legislation, Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2012 (H.R. 4120), was introduced by Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.

The ACA waived the coinsurance and deductible for covered preventive services that have an “A” or “B” rating from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), effective 2011. Colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) all have “A” ratings for adults aged 50 to 75. Unfortunately, the ACA did not waive Medicare beneficiary coinsurance when a colonoscopy turns therapeutic; an oversight that requires legislative correction.

“Fight Colorectal Cancer applauds Rep. Dent for introducing this legislation,” stated Carlea Bauman, Fight Colorectal Cancer’s President. “It is appropriate that this bill is introduced today, the first day of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. It is our belief that closing this gap in Medicare benefits will help save lives by keeping colonoscopies affordable and accessible for seniors.”

The median age for diagnosis of colorectal cancer is 71, and the risk for getting the disease increases with age.

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