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Bill Would Eliminate Medicare Co-Pays for Polyp Removal During Colonoscopies

Currently, screenings are covered, but Medicare bills patients for excisions.

Published: March 13, 2017

NOT BEING SEEN One-third of adults between 50 and 75 may not be up to date with recommended colorectal cancer screenings.

Seniors may be lining up for more colonoscopies if a bipartisan bill recently introduced in the Senate becomes law. The "Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2017" would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries who have polyps removed during screenings.

Currently, colorectal cancer screenings are covered in full by Medicare and promoted as a free service, but when polyps are discovered and removed during screenings, Medicare charges a coinsurance fee.

"Preventive life-saving screenings should be available to seniors at no out-of-pocket cost, especially when a doctor makes the decision to remove a potentially harmful polyp."

"Let's face it — colonoscopies are already unpleasant. We shouldn't make matters worse by charging seniors for what's supposed to be free under Medicare," argues primary sponsor Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). "Preventive life-saving screenings should be available to seniors at no out-of-pocket cost, especially when a doctor makes the decision to remove a potentially harmful polyp."

According to the bill, 1 in 3 adults between the ages of 50 and 75 are not up to date with recommended colorectal cancer screening. The estimate appears to be based on a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control.

The bill is co-sponsored by Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Jim Burger


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