ASCA, Colorectal Cancer Experts, Host Legislative Briefing on Capitol Hill



WASHINGTON, DC, March 20, 2013 — In observance of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA), along with the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), Fight Colorectal Cancer and Stop Colon Cancer Now, will host a briefing today at 2:00 p.m., on Capitol Hill to highlight the importance of preventive screenings in the fight against colorectal cancer.

The event, hosted in cooperation with US Representative Charlie Dent, will feature an expert panel discussing how policymakers can act to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries have access to these life-saving procedures. Under current Medicare law, patient coinsurance and deductibles for screening colonoscopies are waived. When a polyp is discovered and removed, however, the procedure is reclassified as therapeutic and patients are required to pay the coinsurance. This unintentional oversight in Medicare’s payment policy creates a financial burden that may prevent many at-risk beneficiaries from receiving this highly effective screening. Fortunately, Representative Dent has introduced the bipartisan “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act,” which would eliminate this unintended barrier to screenings. US Senator Sherrod Brown is poised to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

“This briefing serves as an important reminder to policy makers, as well as all Americans, about the importance of raising awareness of these vital preventive screenings,” stated ASCA Chief Executive Officer William Prentice. “We must pass this legislation to guarantee that patients have affordable access to these preventive services. Ambulatory surgery centers serve as a vital provider of these life-saving screenings, and we are proud to partner with these prominent organizations in the fight against colorectal cancer.”

“We know that much of the $14.1 billion spent per year caring for patients with colorectal cancer care is spent needlessly because colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected early in the vast majority of cases if screening occurs,” said Thomas M. Deas, Jr., MD, MMM, FASGE, president, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. “Because the federal government is looking for health care savings, fixing current Medicare law to eliminate financial barriers to screening colonoscopy seems like a smart place to start.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from colorectal cancer have declined for more than two decades, mostly because of increased screenings, including colonoscopies and other tests. Colorectal cancer screening colonoscopy allows for both the prevention and early detection of cancer, providing savings for Medicare, insurers and patients and, more importantly, saving lives. Colorectal cancer is a preventable disease but continues to kill 50,000 Americans each year. Regular screenings are essential to further reductions in colorectal cancer rates throughout the nation.

"I lost my father to colorectal cancer last summer," said David Wicks, Vice President of the NASDAQ OMX Group and Board member for Fight Colorectal Cancer. "I want all seniors to understand how important it is to get screened. Not just for themselves, but for the families that love them and want them to be around for a long, long time." .

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  About the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA): ASCA is working to raise awareness of the important role that ASCs play in the US health care system and the high-quality, cost-effective care that ASCs provide. For more about ASCA, go to www.ascassociation.org.

  About the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE): Since its founding in 1941, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) has been dedicated to advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence and innovation in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with more than 12,000 members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, recognizes distinguished contributions to endoscopy, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education. Visit www.asge.org and www.screen4coloncancer.org for more information and to find a qualified doctor in your area.

  About Fight Colorectal Cancer: Fight Colorectal Cancer is a leading colorectal cancer advocacy organization in Washington, DC, and demands a cure for the second leading cancer killer in the United States. In addition to advocacy work, Fight Colorectal Cancer offers support for patients, family members and caregivers and serves as a resource for colorectal cancer advocates, policy makers, medical professionals and health care providers. Find out how you can get involved at www.FightColorectalCancer.org or 877.427.2111.

  About Stop Colon Cancer Now: Stop Colon Cancer Now is a community of 200 outpatient surgery centers and more than 700 physicians specializing in digestive tract treatment, including the prevention of colon cancer. Stop Colon Cancer Now provides colon cancer education, support, advocacy, information and an online locator that patients can use to find a nearby outpatient surgery center that offers colon cancer screenings.