New House legislation introduced for virtual colonoscopy reimbursement

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U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., has introduced legislation to increase patient access to CT colonography (CTC). Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., joined Cubin as an original co-sponsor of her bill.

The legislation, “H.R. 4879, the Virtual Screening for Cancer Act of 2007,” includes CTC, or virtual colonoscopy (VC), as a colorectal cancer screening test covered under Medicare.

In addition to expanding Medicare coverage to include VC, Cubin's bill would also make CTC exams part of the “Welcome to Medicare” program in which Medicare beneficiaries would have their personal co-payments for VCs waived if the exam is conducted within the first six months of enrollment in Medicare, as is currently the case for optical colonoscopy examinations and mammograms.

Cubin, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, worked with the medical community to craft the legislation.

“Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States today. Early detection is the most effective method we have to combat this killer. Unfortunately, too many Americans shy away from traditional colonoscopy exams because of the discomfort associated with it,” Cubin said. “Virtual colonoscopies provide a more comfortable screening alternative that will lead to more patients getting the treatment they need.”