The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act – also known as the “Medicare loophole” bill – is one of Fight CRC’s top legislative priorities. We’ve been working on it for a long time. We know many of you may be getting frustrated that we haven’t checked this off our list yet (we feel the same!). The good news is, even though it may be slower than we had hoped, we are making important progress.
Your hard work and tireless advocacy got us to this point. All of your actions helped move the needle! Our strategy for the last year builds off of our past successes and we can’t take our foot off the gas now.
So, where are we? Over the past year, we have adopted a two-part strategy that includes engaging not only Congress but also the Administration to try and get the Medicare loophole bill over the finish line.
House Bill Reaches Important Milestone!
On March 18th, the day before hundreds of Fight CRC advocates hit Capitol Hill to meet with their Members of Congress, share their stories, and discuss our legislative priorities, H.R. 1570, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Act had just over 130 cosponsors. Today, less than six months later, we have 291 cosponsors!
You did that! You walked the halls of Congress. You sent emails. You posted on Twitter and Facebook. And that tireless advocacy helped us reach this important goal.
Getting 290 cosponsors on a bill in the House is an incredible achievement. It means that a two-thirds majority of the U.S. House of Representatives supports this policy. This is also known as a “veto-proof” majority because it is the number of votes needed to overcome a presidential veto. Very few bills ever reach that level of support.
The Senate version of the bill, S. 668, currently has 52 cosponsors. We need 60 for a majority, so there is more work to do in the Senate, but we are making great progress!
Having over 350 Members of Congress in the House and Senate support H.R. 1570/S. 668 also sends a strong signal to House leadership and the administration that this is a priority which is key to getting this over the finish line.
What can the Administration do?
The strong congressional support for the Medicare loophole bill has helped us gain the attention of the administration. Fight CRC has been working closely with our advocacy partners to encourage the administration to fix the Medicare loophole using their existing authority.
We sent a letter signed by 16 patient organizations and physician groups. Hundreds of Fight CRC advocates sent messages to the administration urging them to remove this barrier to screening. Our congressional champions have reached out as well. And we got positive feedback!
Each year, the administration releases the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule which sets payment rates for doctors and often includes other related policies. We were hopeful that the Medicare loophole would be fixed in this year’s rule, but unfortunately, it was not included this time around.
First, while we were disappointed that the Administration didn’t make the fix this time around, there is still a chance! Join other advocates in sending a comment letter to the Administration urging them to close the Medicare loophole!
Second, it is important to thank the Members who are on our side and have helped us reach 290 cosponsors on the House bill! We hope you will join Fight CRC in helping us to thank those Members. We couldn’t do this without them! Join other advocates by thanking your Members of Congress on Twitter or, if they are not one of the 290 Representatives, urge them to cosponsor!
Let’s make this the year that the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screening Act becomes law!