Groups Urge Congress to Cover CT Colonography

November 12, 2015

Patient and provider groups call on Congress to pass legislation requiring coverage of CT colonography screening.

Colorectal cancer care advocacy groups and the ACR urge Congress to pass the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act (S. 2262), the groups announced this week.

The legislation provides Medicare coverage to seniors who choose CT colonography as a screening exam, an otherwise costly procedure that is already covered by most private insurance.

“A third of those who should be screened for colorectal cancer can’t have or won’t get a colonoscopy… [CT colonography coverage] would jump-start screening, catch more cancers early and save more lives,” Eric Hargis, chief executive officer, Colon Cancer Alliance, said in a release.

A recent study in Abdominal Imagingshowed that CT colonography was 29% less expensive than colonoscopy, and therefore a cost-effective option for the screening population. The procedure also improves the patient experience, the study said, because no anesthesia is required and patients can immediately resume daily activities.

CT colonography is already covered by most major insurers and more than 20 states require insurers to cover these exams.

“In order to increase screening rates amongst seniors, Medicare must cover [CT colonography]. Not only will coverage of these exams increase screening rates, but it would save money and lives,” Anne Carlson, executive director of the Colon Cancer Coalition, said in the release.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"43312","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_5385050762862","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4717","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 120px; width: 160px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Spectral-Design/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Draft recommendations by the USPSTF released last month cited a lack of “mature evidence” of the impact of screening with CT colonography on cancer incidence, morbidity, quality of life, or mortality. The ACR has urged the task force to reclassify CT colonography from an “alternative screening exam” to a “recommended screening exam.”

“At present, seniors who want a CT colonography have to pay for the exam out of pocket – on top of the annual Medicare premium. Many, who might not get tested otherwise, can’t overcome this financial barrier. Congress can provide seniors with the same screening options as the privately insured by passing S. 2262,” Angee Davis, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer, said in the release.

“Colorectal cancer is almost always treatable if found early by screening and the cost to screen and prevent disease is exponentially less than to treat cancers not found until advanced stage. Passage of S. 2262 can help save lives and reduce screening exam costs,” Judy Yee, chair of the ACR Colon Cancer Committee, said in the release.

S. 2262 is cosponsored in the U.S. Senate by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).