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What is the American Cancer Society doing to increase access to colorectal cancer screening?

The recommendations from this multi-organizational panel and those of other organizations are likely to lead to additional test coverage by Medicare and most insurers, contributing to greater access to colorectal cancer screening tests.

In support of the Society’s efforts to reduce colon cancer incidence and mortality, its sister advocacy organization, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates at the state and federal levels to ensure responsible health policies that help improve access to colon cancer testing and treatment.

  • At the federal level, ACS CAN is working to pass legislation that would establish a program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that would provide vital colon cancer screenings, treatment and follow-up services to low-income, uninsured and underinsured men and women ages 50-64.
  • ACS CAN is also working to ensure that more Medicare beneficiaries take advantage of these lifesaving screening tests. These efforts include advocating for legislation that would waive Medicare co-pays for all colon cancer screening tests and extend the eligibility period for the Welcome to Medicare visit (in which doctors may recommend colon cancer and other screenings to their patients) from six months to one year. Additionally, ACS CAN is advocating for legislation that would give the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to have new screenings covered by Medicare once the United States Preventive Services Task Force approves them. Efforts are also underway to collaborate with Medicare Quality Improvement Organizations at the national and regional level to implement and evaluate interventions designed to increase screening among Medicare beneficiaries.
  • ACS CAN is also working in partnership with the Society at the state level to pass laws that would require private health insurance plans to cover the full range of colon cancer screenings. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia guarantee such coverage, as does Medicare.

In addition to advocacy efforts, the Society has been engaged in strong outreach efforts to health plans and medical providers, and created a number of tools to assist them in educating their patients about colorectal cancer. The Society has also developed both PSA and paid advertising campaigns to raise public awareness of colorectal cancer and the benefits of screening, and to encourage individuals to talk with their doctors about screening.

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