ACR, CCA Urge Passage of Virtual Colonoscopy Bill

July 18, 2012

The American College of Radiology and the Colon Cancer Alliance call on Congress to pass HR 4165, which would cover CT colonography screening under Medicare.

The American College of Radiology and the Colon Cancer Alliance are calling on Congress to pass a bill that would cover Medicare beneficiaries for CT colonography screening.

H.R. 4165, the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act, would provide seniors access to virtual colonoscopies, which can boost screening rates and save lives, the groups said. The bill was introduced in March, and also unsuccessfully introduced two years ago.

“Congress has been given a chance to make a difference in the lives of many Americans. I hope lawmakers act now and support the passage of H.R. 4165,” Andrew Spiegel, chief executive officer of the Colon Cancer Alliance, said in a statement.

In 2009, CMS indicated that routine CT colonography would not be covered because of a lack of information supporting its effectiveness. However, a recent study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology found colonography screening compliance could be increased by 15 percent if covered by Medicare or third-party payers.

CT colonography uses low-dose X-rays to produce 3D moving images of the colon. The virtual exam is far less invasive than standard colonoscopy and doesn’t require sedation, according to the ACR. The test is also safer for those Americans with underlying medical problems.

“The American College of Radiology has made significant strides in the fight to make virtual colonoscopy a reality for America’s seniors. The exam is now endorsed by the American Cancer Society as a recommended screening test, and major insurers, including CIGNA, UnitedHealthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, now cover it,” said Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors. “The college encourages Congress and lawmakers to support Medicare coverage of virtual colonoscopy and pass H.R. 4165.”