We were thrilled to join Congressman Payne, Jr., Congressman Dent and Congressman Lance on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the 80 by 2018 Stakeholder Meeting and Lobby Day! This event was part of the ongoing national effort to make prevention a priority by achieving an 80% colon cancer screening rate by 2018. Since its launch, the 80 by 2018 movement has continued to gain momentum in the community with 100+ organizations now on board. To achieve this screening goal, we know we must remove obstacles that are preventing people from getting checked. That’s why we’re currently urging Congress to support HR 1070/S.2348, eliminating the colonoscopy loophole as a barrier to screening.
About the Colonoscopy Loophole
Under the Affordable Care Act, most medical plans are required to cover a range of preventive services with no cost-sharing to the patient. Since colonoscopy is a screening test recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for folks over age 50, it is included as one of these preventative services. However, the categorization of the test changes from screening to diagnostic or therapeutic for patients on Medicare who have a polyp removed during the procedure, which means these patients are left susceptible to unexpected costs and copays after their colonoscopy. Because of this uncertainly, maybe people are deterred from getting screened altogether. Thanks to the diligence of advocacy organizations and the support of legislators, this loophole has been closed for private insurance carriers, but the issue remains for Medicare beneficiaries.
7/16 Lobby Day: What You Need to Know
Our Prevention Programs Associate, Lauren Bennett, participated in Wednesday’s meeting. “As a representative for the Colon Cancer Alliance, I worked with collaborators from other advocacy organizations to push for needed change in our national healthcare policy,” she said. “We’re on the Hill urging these issues because tearing down these barriers to screening has the potential to save lives.” Check out Lauren’s top five takeaways, and don’t forget to ask YOUR Senator to sign on to this letter to support the "Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act."
- Research shows that cost sharing creates financial barriers that discourage the use of recommended preventive services. We have the power to help close the colonoscopy loophole and eliminate this specific financial obstacle for Americans. That’s why we were on the Hill Wednesday –in order to achieve the 80% by 2018 goal, we must remove barriers such as this. After all, colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer and thousands of cases and deaths could be avoided with routine colon cancer screening.
- I stood alongside 30 advocates and together, we had the opportunity to meet with various senators and congressmen who have not yet cosponsored HR 1070/S.2348. My group met Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) personally to discuss the bill. There are currently 79 cosponsors of HR 1070, and the goal is 100. With larger numbers, congressional leadership will take greater notice of the bill and that may help push this bill to completion.
- I met and worked with advocates with various affiliations and connections to colon cancer. My group was comprised of Michell Baker, Fight Colorectal Cancer; Camille Bonta, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy; Jerina Ordono, colon cancer advocate. Jerina lost her husband late last year to colon cancer after a four-year battle. He was 33. Michell’s father passed from colon cancer when he was in his late 50s.
- There is already some Congressional support for HR 1070 and S.2348, such as Rep. Charles Dent and Senator Sherrod Brown. There hasn’t been any negative pushback from Congress on this bill and if it passes, will be a bi-partisan effort. Cheers to working together!
- In our meetings, my group pushed the importance of reaching an 80% national screening rate by 2018, and that our current 60% screening rate is not enough. After all, that means one third of Americans who should be getting lifesaving screening, aren’t. We need congressional leadership to get there.
Remember to take action on this issue with our current advocacy alert! And don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have questions or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.