Colon cancer survivors blast Medicare 'loophole'

Colon and rectal cancer advocates are calling on Congress to change what they call an unfair Medicare loophole related to colonoscopies.

More than 30 advocates and survivors will argue in Capitol Hill meetings Wednesday that Medicare beneficiaries should not have to render a co-pay for a routine colonoscopy if a polyp is removed during the procedure.

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The group, organized in part by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, is touting legislation from Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to make an adjustment.

"Colonoscopies are proven to prevent colon cancer and save lives, but any cost-sharing can be a deterrent from getting the screening," said ACS CAN President Chris Hansen in a statement Wednesday morning.

"This important bill would help to ensure that seniors would have access to lifesaving cancer screenings, regardless of their ability to pay."

Under current Medicare rules, cost-sharing is not required for seniors undergoing routine colonoscopies.

Co-pays are triggered, however, if a doctor removes lumps of extra tissue that could become cancerous over time during the procedure.

Removal of these lumps of tissue, known as polyps, does not generally trigger cost-sharing in private health insurance.

Advocates will hold more than 60 meetings Wednesday with lawmakers and staff on the Dent-Brown bill.