ACR Stresses Value of Care Over Cost in Response to NYT Cover Story

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The New York Times article " The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill: Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures" might lead some people to skip needed screening warns the ACR in a response to the front page story for the Times’ Sunday paper and website.

The important take-away from the story should not be that less screening is needed, the ACR points out. Instead it should lead to questions about which patients need what type of screening.

“The ACR agrees with the Times article’s assessment that Americans need greater access to more colorectal cancer screening choices — including CT colonography — otherwise known as virtual colonoscopy,” said Judy Yee, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Colon Cancer Committee in the organization's statement.

The ACR statement also reminded the public and policy makers that “multiple clinical trials, including a New England Journal of Medicine study, prove that virtual colonoscopy is comparably effective to standard colonoscopy in the overwhelming majority of Americans (all but high-risk patients).”

In other words, if one accepts the science, virtual colonoscopy is the better value for most patients since it is as effective as regular colonoscopy and costs less because it does not require general anesthesia and the markup of ambulatory surgery centers that the Times reporter, Elisabeth Rosenthal, questions in her article.

The ACR has been a vocal advocate for Medicare coverage for CT colonography.

In March, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) reintroduced the "CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act" in the 113th Congress. The previous bill had died in committee before being voted on. The current bill is H.R. 991. It has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health as well as the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.