Inhofe, Nelson Introduce Bill To Provide CT Colonography Screening Under Medicare

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) today introduced S. 2262, legislation that would provide coverage under Medicare for CT (virtual) Colonography (CTC) screening.  

“More than two years ago, a virtual colonoscopy saved my life,” said Inhofe. “When my friend Gen. Tom Stafford advised me to get this procedure done, I never imagined that it would alert me of other health conditions. With this advanced procedure becoming more accessible nationwide, it is time for Medicare to provide this as an option in order to encourage early, preventative screening. Colorectal cancer and other forms of cancer knows no political party, and we should take steps like this to promote early detection, which will enable many to be successfully treated and cured from this disease.” 

“Early detection is key when it comes to treating cancer,” said Nelson. “So giving seniors access to a quicker and less invasive way to screen for symptoms is just common sense.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2010 medical costs associated with colorectal cancer topped $14 billion, second only to breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer diagnosed in United States and the third leading cause of cancer death even though it has a 90 percent cure rate with early detection. More than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with CRC every year, and nearly 50,000 men and women die due to late detection.

In 2008, ACS, backed by the American Gastroenterology Association (AGA), and the American College of Radiological (ACR), recommended CTC as a front line screening exam for colorectal cancer screening for all people over the age of 50. Currently, in 31 states and Washington, D.C., commercial insurance carriers reimburse for CT colonography in accordance with the American Cancer society guidelines. 

This legislation is supported by the American College of Radiology, Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance and the Colon Cancer Alliance.

“It is a tragedy that on average one hundred Americans die each day from colon cancer when at least 90 could be saved with timely screening.  It is vital that we have access to CT Colonography as a screening option for those who cannot, or will not have a colonoscopy. I applaud Senator Inhofe for his leadership on this effort,” said Eric R. Hargis, chief executive officer for the Colon Cancer Alliance.

“Colorectal cancer is almost always treatable if found early by screening and the cost to screen and prevent the 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," said Judy Yee, MD, chair of the American College of Radiology Colon Cancer Committee.

“We appreciate Senator Inhofe’s continued support for CTC and look forward to working with him throughout the coverage process for this lifesaving screening exam,” said Peter Weems, director of policy for the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA).