Two Congressional Bills on Colorectal Cancer Introduced

CURE, Summer 2012, Volume 11, Issue 2

Legislators are introducing bills to encourage people to get their recommended screenings.

With colorectal cancer screening rates low, lawmakers are introducing legislation to encourage people to get their recommended screenings. Colorectal cancer is more treatable when detected in an early stage.

In March, two bills addressing this issue were introduced to the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. The “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2012” (H.R. 4120) is an amendment to title XVIII of the Social Security Act initiated by Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., to waive the coinsurance if a polyp is found and removed during screening. Although screening is covered under Medicare, if a polyp is found and removed it is reclassified as a therapeutic procedure and requires a coinsurance payment.

The “CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act of 2012” (H.R. 4165), introduced by Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, is another amendment to the Social Security Act, which would provide Medicare coverage for computed tomography colonography (CTC) to screen for colorectal cancer. Also called virtual colonoscopy, CTC uses imaging technology to form two- and three-dimensional views of the colon and is considered less invasive. One disadvantage to this method is that radiologists can’t remove a tissue sample as in a regular colonoscopy. The bill was also introduced in the Senate (S. 2265) by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.

In 2009, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommended Medicare coverage of CTC as an option to detect early cancers and pre-malignant lesions. The ACS believes having more options available to the public will encourage more people to get screened.