Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the country. This year alone, an estimated 137,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and nearly 50,000 will die from the disease. Compounding the tragedy is the fact that colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
Half of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented each year if every individual older than 50 received recommended colon cancer screening. Unfortunately, many people are deterred from getting screened by co-pays and other patient costs. The new health care law waives co-pays for people with private insurance, but a loophole still leaves seniors unfairly exposed.
Currently, Medicare recipients aren't ensured the same protections as individuals on private plans, and if a polyp is discovered and removed during their routine colonoscopy, they could wake up to a substantial bill as the classification changes from a screening to a diagnostic procedure.
Recently, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask Rep. Vern Buchanan to support legislation that would remove this barrier faced by Medicare recipients. Colon cancer is preventable. Our lawmakers have a responsibility to make getting a colonoscopy just as easy for seniors as it is for others. In doing so, they could potentially save thousands of lives, reduce suffering and reduce cancer costs in Medicare.
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Please contact Rep. Buchanan at his D.C. office, 202-225-5015; Bradenton office, 941-747-9081; or Sarasota office, 941-951-6643, and ask him to co-sponsor HR 1220, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act.
Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Holmes Beach and Bradenton