March 05, 2015
Senate Bill Would Address Colonoscopy Screening
On March 3, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation that would eliminate cost-sharing under Medicare for preventive screening colonoscopies, even if a polyp or tissue is removed. CMS recently expanded preventative services to include anesthesia for screening colonoscopy, but declined to extend them for diagnostic services, stating they lacked statutory authority.
ASA has recognized this conflict and is pleased by legislative efforts to make these services preventative. In comments on the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, ASA wrote to "encourage the Agency to apply the essential benefits payment provisions when a screening endoscopy turns diagnostic or therapeutic - if polyps are discovered and removed during the encounter." The final rule confirmed coverage of anesthesia care for screening colonoscopies, but it included no mention of any change in the method used to determine the payment amount.
The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screenings Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Donald Payne (D-NJ-10), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08) and Joe Courtney (D-CT-02).
Read more about the Senate legislation here
Read more about the House legislation here
ASA will monitor for developments on this legislation, and will continue to advocate for anesthesia to be considered as diagnostic.