The following post was contributed by Judy Yee, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Colon Cancer Committee.
In these last days of August, besides cheering the efforts of our athletes at the Olympics in Rio, let’s salute the American College of Radiology (ACR) officers, volunteers and staff in their continuing effort to obtain Medicare coverage for CT colonography (CTC) to advance patient care.
With colorectal cancer patient advocacy groups and related medical associations, ACR urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in a national coverage determination reconsideration request letter to recognize CTC as a recommended test for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening for adults ages 50–75 as a screening benefit under Medicare.
United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) screening recommendations assigned the highest rating, an “A” grade, to CRC screening, including virtual colonoscopy and other tests. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this “A” rating would require insurers that take part in insurance exchanges to cover virtual colonoscopy without patient cost sharing. While Medicare is not bound to provide coverage under the ACA, we believe that Medicare should cover seniors for these exams.
The best colorectal cancer screening exam is the one that a person ultimately chooses to use. Too many are dying from a largely preventable disease that can almost always be treated if found early. Medicare coverage of CTC would ensure access to a proven screening method for those who cannot, or will not, have a traditional colonoscopy. CTC increases screening rates for seniors, which can save lives, and lowers costs.
Like elite athletes, our dedicated volunteers and staff understand the needed strategies, working as an integrated, agile team who dedicate enormous advocacy and public relations resources to make a significant difference in the lives of patients. ACR defends and advances our causes and offers needed online CTC resources to educate our patients.
We continue to move toward that Olympic Gold Medal moment—with the medals podium in sight—when Medicare covers screening CTC.
You are pivotal to the success of ACR efforts. Please let us know:
- Does your facility offer CTC now?
- If you do not currently offer CTC, do you plan to offer it within the next year?
- Do you want more CTC training opportunities?