Virtual colonoscopy national coverage bill reintroduced in House

Representatives Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Danny Davis (D-IL) have reintroduced the “CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act,” or HR 991, which would require Medicare to cover beneficiaries for CT colonography.

A February 2012 American College of Radiology Imaging Network paper published in Radiology found CT colonography to be comparable to optical colonography for Americans aged 65 years or older. Studies at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Naval Medical Center in San Diego also have shown that availability of virtual colonoscopy significantly boosted colorectal cancer screening rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that up to 30,000 colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented each year if all those ages 50 and older were screened regularly.

“The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) applauds this bipartisan effort to expand access to CT colonography, which has proven to increase compliance in patients who otherwise would avoid a diagnostic procedure that saves lives,” Gail Rodriguez, MITA’s executive director, said in a release. “We continue to urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to open a national coverage decision for CT colonography so that more American seniors have access to tools to diagnose colon cancer early, when it is most treatable.”

Other organizations voicing support of a national coverage decision for CT colonography include the Colon Cancer Alliance, COLONTOWN — a survivor/patient support group for colorectal disease, including cancer — and the American College of Radiology.