McEachin, Payne, Davis, McKinley introduce Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act

Donald McEachinIn honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Rep. A. Donald McEachin, joined by Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13), and Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV-1), introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2019This legislation would waive cost-sharing requirements under Medicare for life-saving colorectal cancer screenings, making these critical screenings more affordable for seniors.

“As a conqueror of colorectal cancer, I know firsthand that regular colonoscopies are not only an effective screening mechanism, but they can also be life-saving,” said Congressman McEachin. “We certainly do not want any senior to forego this potentially critical procedure because of a Medicare loophole that could cost them hundreds of dollars in surprise medical bills. This legislation will remove financial barriers to getting a colonoscopy, making this life-saving screening more affordable accessible – thereby saving lives.”

Under current law, seniors covered by Medicare are eligible for colorectal cancer screenings without cost sharing. However, if a physician takes further preventive action – like removing a polyp – during the screening, the procedure is billed as a “treatment” rather than a “screening,” and the cost (anywhere between $100 and $300) is passed on to the patient. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act would fix this discrepancy, allowing Medicare to cover those costs and making it easier for seniors to get screened.

“Cost should never stand in the way of care,” said Rep. Payne, Jr., the bill’s Democratic co-lead. “Colorectal cancer is largely curable or preventable if caught early. When a person covered by Medicare gets a colonoscopy, they should not be saddled with unexpected costs arising from polyp removal. We want to encourage people to seek out screenings and treatments without the fear of unexpected medical bills. Removing Barriers is a commonsense fix to Medicare law, and it will ensure people are able to afford their colonoscopies.”

“My wife, Shannon, was diagnosed with a rare form of colon cancer at age 26, and because it was detected at an early stage, she is now a 19-year survivor,” said Rep. Davis, the bill’s Republican co-lead. “I am proud to support this legislation that will remove barriers to colorectal cancer screenings and tests that lead to early detection and ultimately save lives.”

“Currently, when a Medicare beneficiary gets a colonoscopy, it will be paid for, as long as nothing is found. Yet, if a polyp is found and removed, they are faced with the possibility of having to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket,” said Rep. McKinley, a Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act stops seniors from being hit with a surprise bill during a routine screening colonoscopy. The current policy is stopping thousands of seniors from getting checked. Closing this loophole would prevent upwards of 2,000 colorectal cancer cases over the next 10 years alone.”

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the legislation in the Senate.

Full bill text is available here. Fact sheet is available here.

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