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article imageSenator Brown expands on unfair cancer screening costs Special

By Tim Sandle     May 15, 2014 in Health
Washington - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has held a news conference call to announce legislation to ensure seniors who need colon cancer preventive procedures are not hit with unfair and burdensome costs.
As reported earlier by the Digital Journal, Brown was preparing to host a news conference on Wednesday May 14 to announce legislation that would ensure seniors who receive potentially lifesaving colon cancer preventive procedures are not hit with unfair and burdensome costs.
The issue is that under current law, seniors covered by Medicare are eligible for free colorectal cancer screenings. However, if a doctor needs to take a further lifesaving, preventive action—like removing a polyp—while the patient is under anesthesia, the patient is billed as if the procedure was treatment rather than prevention. This billing issue not only hurts the pocketbooks of seniors trying to protect themselves from cancer, it deters other seniors from seeking this preventive care.
Following the press conference, the Digital Journal contacted Senator Brown’s office to find out how the event had gone.
Brown said that his legislation is called the ‘Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act’. The Act would ensure that all colorectal cancer screenings remain cost-free for Medicare beneficiaries, whether or not a polyp is removed. Brown went onto explain that allowing Medicare to cover the costs of this potentially lifesaving procedure, this bill would eliminate the Medicare billing problem that disincentivizes seniors from getting screened and enable Medicare beneficiaries to live healthier lives without breaking the bank. While colorectal cancer screening is a proven preventive tool that saves lives, only about one in every three adults aged 50-75 will get screened. Many of those who do not choose to get screened cite cost as the reason.
Commenting further, Brown said: “Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the country. But too many seniors who go in expecting a free, preventive screening, wake up to an unexpected and significant bill. We must do everything we can to make potentially lifesaving procedures as easy and affordable as possible. My legislation would eliminate billing problems so that seniors can stay healthy and protected without taking a hit to their pocketbooks.”
Brown believes the issue to be of great importance. He adds that “this year, approximately 140,000 adults will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 will die from the disease. Colorectal cancer, in fact, is the third leading cause of cancer death in the country. Regular screenings for colon cancer could help save up to 60 percent of these lives.”
Organizations which have endorsed Brown’s legislation include the Ohio Gastroenterology Society (OGS), American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN), Fight Colorectal Cancer, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
It will be interesting to see how the legislation fares in the senate.
More about Cancer, Screening, Elderly, Sherrod Brown
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