Peters Cosponsors Legislation to Protect Seniors Receiving Preventive Cancer Screenings from Unfair Costs

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters announced today that he will be cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to ensure colorectal cancer screenings remain cost-free under Medicare. While the Affordable Care Act waives the coinsurance and deductible for many cancer screening tests, the removal of any polyp while the patient is under anesthesia reclassifies this lifesaving, preventive action as a therapeutic procedure, leaving patients with an unexpected, burdensome bill under current Medicare billing rules. TheRemoving Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2015 would waive the coinsurance for a screening colonoscopy, regardless of whether a polyp or lesion is found.

“Michigan seniors who depend on Medicare to make ends meet should not wake up to an expensive, unanticipated medical bill when they are trying to stay healthy with a free, preventive colorectal cancer screening,” said Senator Peters. “This highly effective test should be easy and accessible so our seniors are not deterred from seeking out this lifesaving screening at their doctor’s office. I’m glad to support this simple fix that will help our seniors protect themselves against colorectal cancer while avoiding unfair costs.”

Colonoscopies allow for the detection and removal of polyps that could become cancerous, as well as the early detection of colorectal cancer when treatment can be most effective. With two-thirds of colorectal cancers occurring in Medicare-aged individuals, removing barriers to these screenings and encouraging early detection will improve health care outcomes while saving money for both seniors and the Medicare program.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 4,190 new cases of colorectal cancer and 1,670 deaths from colorectal cancer in Michigan in 2015. While it remains the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, colorectal cancer can be prevented with proper screening. According to a 2014 Michigan Department of Community Health report on colorectal cancer screening, an estimated 71 percent of Michigan adults age 50 years and older reported appropriate colorectal cancer screening in 2013.

The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act is supported by numerous organizations, including the American Gastroenterological Association, the Digestive Diseases National Coalition, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. Senator Peters previously supported similar legislation as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.