By Dr. Whitney Jones, Colon Cancer Prevention Project Founder
Over the last decade, colon cancer has been on the run in Kentucky.
Due to the wisdom of our elected representatives in Frankfort, we now have the lowest barriers for colon cancer screening, the widest range of options covered in the nation, and an active program that provides access for the uninsured.
But, there is one exception: Medicare beneficiaries. That’s right, Medicare beneficiaries.
For Medicare beneficiaries, the unclear (bait and switch) coding of a screening colonoscopy potentially being re-coded as a diagnostic or therapeutic colonoscopy – if a polyp or lesion is found or removed – remains the statute for this national program.
Bills to address and change this, House Bill 1220 and Senate Bill 624, have languished in Congress for years.
This week, on behalf of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project and the Kentucky Cancer Foundation, with support from The American Cancer Society and Fight Colorectal Cancer, I lobbied both Senate and all 6 House offices to solicit their co-sponsorship and support for House Bill 1220 and Senate Bill 624.
These included personal meetings with Rep. Guthrie (Ky. 2) and Rep. Yarmuth. (Ky. 3).
In each of these offices, I encountered caring, engaged, and informed staff who were generous with their time and expertise regarding possible co-sponsorship, as well as moving it to a vote and passing it eventually.
And to be clear with the facts: Despite our progress, Kentucky remains the number one colon cancer incidence state in the nation. Medicare beneficiaries suffer by far the great risk/burden of colon cancer. And the CDC identified Kentucky as a hotspot for excessive colon cancer deaths, especially in Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia.
Would it not be a paradox within our Commonwealth where so many partners have done so much to increase colon cancer screening rates that those most at risk, most affected, were left out – thereby losing our opportunity to say both lives and money?
What remains in this equation is that Congressional offices hear from their constituents about leveling the prevention and early detection playing field in Kentucky and across the nation for Medicare beneficiaries.
If you want to close the federal loophole on screening colonoscopies for Medicare beneficiaries for our state and the nation, then visit, write, email or call your elected federal congressional representatives and ask them to cosponsor HB 1220 and SB 624 and push this legislation forward.
Your contact with our elected officials team in Washington helps them gage the support for this bill and our unwillingness to accept unnecessary barriers for colon cancer screening in Kentucky and the nation.
TO DO LIST TODAY:
Ask your elected federal senator and representative to cosponsor and support house bill 1220 and Senate Bill 624.