Patient and Provider Groups to Congress: Pass Medicare Virtual Colonoscopy Coverage

03/03/2017

Washington (March 2, 2017) – Major colorectal cancer care advocacy groups and medical societies strongly urge Congress to pass the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act (HR 1298). The bill would provide Medicare coverage for screening CT Colonography (CTC) – known as virtual colonoscopy. Studies (US and abroad) show CTC use increases screening rates and lowers costs.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cancer killer in men and women – expected to kill 50,000 Americans in 2017. At least a third of those 50 and older who should be screened for CRC choose not to be tested. To provide more options to boost screening, the United States Preventive Services Task Force assigned an “A” grade to a list of CRC screening exams – including CT colonography.  Under the Affordable Care Act, this grade requires private insurers to cover these tests with no copay. However, Medicare refuses to cover CTC, even though it is an American Cancer Society-recommended exam.

 “Medicare CT colonography coverage can jump-start screening by offering access to a less-invasive option that millions of screening age who choose not to be tested find more appealing,” said Michael Sapienza, President and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Colon Cancer Alliance.

"Colorectal cancer screening though less-invasive options like CT colonography is appealing to patients, especially the Medicare population. This test requires no sedation and people can go back to daily activities afterward. Covering this patient-centered option will help save lives," said Anne Carlson, executive director of the Colon Cancer Coalition.

“Most colorectal cancers start as polyps. Medicare-covered access to CT colonography can attract those who would otherwise not be screened, allow doctors to remove more polyps before they become cancers and help people avoid getting this deadly disease,” said Carolyn R. (“Bo”) Aldigé, president and founder of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

“CT Colonography is safe, effective and comparably accurate to colonoscopy in most people —including those 65 and older.  Former President Obama had this test. Medicare should follow the USPSTF’s lead and cover this exam,” said Judy Yee, MD, chair of the American College of Radiology Colon Cancer Committee.

HR 1298 was recently introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).

For more information on virtual colonoscopy, go to RadiologyInfo.org/VirtualCT.