Reps. Payne, Jr., Dent, Lance Introduce Legislation to Remove Cost Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Feb 14, 2017 Issues: Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), along with Congressmen Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Leonard Lance (NJ-7), introduced the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2017 (H.R. 1017), bipartisan legislation that would remove financial barriers to life-saving colorectal cancer screenings and treatment for Medicare beneficiaries.

“Medicare beneficiaries cannot receive lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings if those screenings are unaffordable,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), the lead Democratic co-sponsor of the bill. “Our bill eliminates colonoscopy cost-sharing for Medicare patients so that every patient has access to this lifesaving preventive service. We cannot let cost stand in the way of care—this bill offers a solution to improve health outcomes and save lives by increasing accessibility to screenings.”

Seniors on Medicare currently face the prospect of an out-of-pocket expense totaling hundreds of dollars if a polyp is removed during a screening colonoscopy that is supposed to be free. For cost-sensitive seniors, this potential expense can be a deterrent to getting their recommended colorectal cancer screening. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act waives cost-sharing under Medicare for preventive colonoscopies, even if a polyp or tissue is removed. By reducing disincentives for screenings, the bill will improve health outcomes and save money for both seniors and taxpayers.

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to correct an unfortunate glitch in current law and help save lives by encouraging more people to get colorectal cancer screenings,” added Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15), co-sponsor of the bill and co-chair of the House Cancer Caucus. “The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screening Act would waive Medicare’s cost-sharing requirement for screening colonoscopies. If you consider the relatively low cost of this preventative service versus the high costs of extensive cancer treatments and hospital stays that those suffering from colorectal cancer must endure, it’s clear this bill provides a commonsense and fiscally responsible way to save lives.”

In the United States, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined. Every year, an estimated 135,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and nearly 50,000 of them will die from the disease. Approximately 60 percent of colorectal cancer cases and 70 percent of deaths occur in those aged 65 and older.