The Digestive Health Physicians Association (DHPA) is expressing support for the involvement of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in supporting legislation to cut cost barriers to colorectal cancer screening. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network recently gathered 30 colorectal cancer advocates and survivors at Capitol Hill to draw attention to the issue.

Introduced by Representative Charlie Dent (R-Pa) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (H.R. 1070 & S. 2348) would provide Medicare seniors with the same benefits as private insurance beneficiaries when receiving colonoscopies. Though colonoscopies are classified as a routine procedure under Medicare, detection and removal of a polyp during the screening leads to its immediate reclassification as a “therapeutic” procedure. Under that system, patients could be hit with unexpected charges they would be liable to cover. In contrast, patients with private insurance are typically not required to pay a co-pay during a routine colonoscopy, even if a polyp is removed.

“On behalf of more than 940 gastroenterologists and other physician specialists who last year treated more than 1.5 million patients, we support the legislation introduced by Sen. Brown in the Senate and Rep. Dent in the House that would eliminate needless cost barriers to routine colonoscopy screenings that have proven time and again to prevent colon cancer and save lives,” said Michael Weinstein, MD, DHPA’s health policy chair.

According to the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, colon cancer is the second leading cause of death among all adults in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 60% of these deaths could be avoided with screening, and reports that one in three adults aged 50 to 75 have not received the colorectal cancer screening recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. The disease has a 90% cure rate when caught in its earliest state.

For more information, visit the DHPA.