The President goes virtual

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Mike Bassett, Associate Editor

One of the arguments that President Obama has made in favor of healthcare reform is that the same kind of insurance system available to him and members of Congress should be available to all Americans.

Now, the American College of Radiology (ACR) is using the same logic to argue that virtual colonoscopy should be available to all Americans—particularly elderly Americans covered by Medicare.

The basis for the analogy is Obama’s recent decision to have a virtual colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening while he was undergoing his annual physical.

The ACR  took the opportunity to note that while the President chose to undergo the procedure, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) continue to deny coverage of the exam for seniors enrolled in Medicare.

“Congress and the Administration should act now to ensure that seniors have the same access as the President to this less invasive, cutting-edge care,” the college said. “Patients who have delayed colorectal cancer screening should follow the President's example and look into CTC as a screening alternative.”

On the other hand, the American College of Gastroenterology responded to the news of Obama’s virtual colonoscopy by calling it “a missed opportunity” to set an example by using the test  (conventional colonoscopy) “proven to prevent colorectal cancer by polyp detection and removal.”

This kind of brouhaha is bound to confuse many patients trying to make a decision about using a particular kind method to screen for colon cancer. With that in mind, it might not be a bad idea to remember that unlike the CMS, many insurance companies do cover virtual colonoscopy and that the American Cancer Society recommends both conventional colonoscopy and virtual colonoscopy.

If you have a comment or report to share about how the utilization of advanced visualization technology is changing your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Bassett, Associate Editor