Congressman Payne, Jr. Introduces Bipartisan Donald Payne Sr. Colorectal Cancer Detection Act of 2019

Mar 14, 2019 Issues: Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), joined by Congressman Kenny Marchant (TX-24), introduced H.R. 1765, the Donald Payne Sr. Colorectal Cancer Detection Act of 2019. This legislation would extend Medicare coverage to include FDA-approved blood-based colorectal cancer screening tests. 


“Colorectal cancer is treatable and preventable if caught early, but a third of people who are eligible for screenings avoid them,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “People should not suffer unnecessarily from colorectal cancer because of fears about screening or cost barriers that limit their screening options. My father did not get a colorectal cancer test early enough, and he passed away from colorectal cancer. This bill will help more people get screened and provide more options for testing under Medicare. It will close screening gaps and save lives.”


“Screening tests are a vital part of our fight against colorectal cancer, but Medicare has still not caught up with the latest breakthroughs in detecting the disease. That is why I am proud to support the Donald Payne Sr. Colorectal Cancer Detection Act of 2019, which will allow Medicare to cover the blood-based tests recently approved by the FDA. By making these tests easier and more affordable to receive, our bill will hopefully encourage more Americans to take advantage of their life-saving benefits,” said Congressman Marchant.


Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the United States. In 2019, more than 145,600, Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and approximately 51,000 people will die from the disease. Medicare-aged individuals account for two-thirds of colorectal cancer diagnoses. Mortality rates are highest among men, African Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, and people in Southern and Midwestern states. Factors that contribute to the geographic disparities in colorectal cancer include regional variations in risk factors and access to screening and treatment.


In April 2016, the FDA approved a non-invasive assessment that detects the presence of a DNA marker that may be present in the blood of patients with colorectal cancer. However, payment policy is not yet in sync with testing technology. As a result, Medicare coverage for the test is not yet authorized. Recently published data for this blood test decisively showed that 99.5 percent of people who were offered but twice refused prior screening events later opted for a blood test for colorectal cancer screening.


Endorsing organizations include Colorectal Cancer Alliance and Fight Colorectal Cancer.