Lawmakers join associations, industry to urge CTC coverage

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Elizabeth McFarland, MD, chair of the ACR Colon Cancer Committee, urges CTC coverage at Capitol Hill briefing. Image Source: American College of Radiology (ACR)

Several U.S. Representatives have responded to efforts by the American College of Radiology (ACR), American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), industry and patient groups by sending letters to Charlene Frizzera, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging the agency to cover CT colonography (CTC) as a screening exam for colorectal cancer.

Reps. Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., drafted a letter urging CMS to reverse a February proposal not to cover CTC, which has since been signed by 32 members of Congress.

"We fully support national Medicare coverage of CTC as an acceptable minimally invasive screening test and an additional valuable tool in our arsenal for detecting and preventing colorectal cancer," Granger and Kennedy wrote.

Meanwhile, Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., of the Congressional Black Caucus has also authored a letter to CMS asking the agency cover CTC. Ten other members of the caucus have signed the letter.

"Medicare coverage of CTC as a minimally invasive screening test for colorectal cancer would not just encourage more patients to undergo screening, but it would potentially close or eliminate the gap in colorectal cancer screening between African American and other populations," King wrote.

The ACR, imaging manufacturers and patient groups also penned a letter to CMS asking the agency to reverse its stance on CTC. "Medicare coverage of CTC would provide a critical opportunity to save lives from cancer, end unbearable suffering, as well as save taxpayer dollars," the ACR letter said. 

All three letters were sent to CMS on March 13--the day the public comment period ended for CMS' February proposed decision.

The ACR, AGA, industry and patient groups also held a briefing for congressional and regulatory staff as well as other interested parties at the U.S. Capitol on March 9 to educate them regarding the importance and effectiveness of CTC and the role it can serve in saving lives.