Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX), along with lead co-sponsor Representative Danny Davis (D-IL), have reintroduced legislation to extend Medicare coverage to CT colonography as a colorectal cancer screening test. The previous such legislation died in committee when the last session of Congress ended.
The new bill is H.R.991, the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act of 2013. It was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means.
The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), which has long pushed for a national Medicare coverage decision on virtual colonoscopy issued a statement applauding the re-introduction of the bill.
“CT colonography has proven to increase compliance in patients who otherwise would avoid a diagnostic procedure that saves lives,” said Gail Rodriguez, MITA’s Executive Director in the statement. “We continue to urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to open a national coverage decision for CT colonography so that more American seniors have access to tools to diagnose colon cancer early, when it is most treatable.”
CT colonography’s acceptance by private payor has grown. For example, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, CIGNA and UnitedHealthcare now cover the screening test. However, since colon cancer screening is primarily beneficial for those older than 50, not having the test covered by Medicare limits its use in those older than 65 who may most benefit from having an alternative to colonoscopy.