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ADVOCACY SPOTLIGHT


ASCA in the Forefront of CRC Screening Advocacy Show your support for CRC screening during National Advocacy Day BY JEFF EVANS


According to the Centers for


Disease Control and


Prevention (CDC), colorec- tal cancer (CRC) is the third-most diagnosed and


second-most deadly cancer in America. In 2017, approximately 135,000 people were diagnosed with CRC. And while death rates associated with CRC have declined for several decades, roughly 50,000 people succumb to the disease each year. CDC estimates that if all pre- cancerous polyps were identified and removed before becoming cancerous, the number of new CRC cases could be reduced by 76 to 90 percent.


March, being the National Colorectal


Cancer Awareness Month, seems to be an apt time to reexamine the importance of early and regular colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. Early screening is the most valuable tool to avoid catastrophic loss of finances and life. ASCs have the means to advocate for CRC awareness and bolster significant effort ASCA has made to champion CRC screening. To help build awareness of CRC


screening, ASCA informs federal legislators about the importance of regular screening and early cancer detection. Under current law, Medicare waives coinsurance and deductibles for screening colonoscopies. When a polyp is discovered and removed, however, the procedure is reclassified as “therapeutic” for Medicare billing purposes and patients are then required to pay an additional fee. This is problematic for many seniors on a fixed income who cannot easily afford a surprise medical bill. Further, a procedure reclassification can discourage Medicare beneficiaries from accessing additional preventive care. In this regard, an oversight in current law exists as a deterrent to screening. Awareness alone will not increase screening if we face significant


22 ASC FOCUS MARCH 2019| ascfocus.org


In the 115th Congress (2017–2018), Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act garnered more than 300 cosponsors in the House and more than 60 cosponsors in the Senate.”


— Jeff Evans, ASCA


financial impediment to preventive care. Colonoscopies must be made as widely available as possible. To help eliminate obstacles to


regular CRC screening, ASCA supports the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act. This federal legislation would eliminate unexpected costs for Medicare beneficiaries when a polyp is discovered and removed. By eliminating financial barriers, passing the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act would attain higher screening rates and reduce the incidence and cost of CRC. CRC treatment costs Medicare more than $14 billion each year.


GET INVOLVED IN ASC ADVOCACY


ASCA’s regulatory and legislative successes are dependent on the advocacy efforts of ASCA members. Get involved by participating in ASCA’s National Advocacy Day, hosting a facility tour or celebrating National ASC Month in August.


ascassociation.org/ grassroots


This legislation would help increase screening rates among Medicare beneficiaries, which could save lives. The cost associated with polyp removal is far less than treatment for CRC, thus, the act would save a strained health care system considerable expense. According to a 2011 study, the average first year Medicare cost for colon cancer diagnosis was $29,000. Late-stage treatment for colon cancer was as high as $300,000. The study did not include costs for rectal cancer but, considering the $600– $800 price tag for a colonoscopy in an ASC, evidence clearly states the health and economic necessity for regular CRC screening. In the 115th Congress (2017–2018),


Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act garnered more than 300 cosponsors in the House and more than 60 cosponsors in the Senate. ASCA and its partners, such as the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and American Gastroenterological Association, remain active in Congress to advocate for proper CRC screening and build on the legislation’s success in the last congressional session. ASCs play a pivotal role in


providing CRC screening, as many offer colonoscopy services in their communities at minimal or no cost for uninsured and under-insured patients. We encourage you to contact your federal legislators and urge them to support the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening


Act.


If you would like to join ASCA on September 24, 2019, for its National Advocacy Day to advocate CRC screening, register at ascassociation. org/nationaladvocacyday. For more information on CRC screening, visit ascassociation.org/ crc2017 or write Jeff Evans at jevans@ ascassociation.org.


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