ACR presses Medicare to cover virtual colonoscopy

The American College of Radiology is urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to start paying for CT colonography for seniors.

The plea follows yesterday’s online publication of a study in Radiology showing markedly increased colorectal cancer screening rates among patients who are covered for the procedure by private insurers.

“Medicare coverage of virtual colonoscopy would boost screening and save lives,” says Judy Yee, MD, chair of the ACR’s committee on colon cancer, in a statement. “It would help many seniors avoid extensive treatment and reduce costs. … Medicare should cover these exams.”

Emphasizing the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s June 2016 decision giving an “A” recommendation for colorectal-cancer screening for people between 50 and 75 years old, the ACR statement offers supporting points for its position and cites recommendations from other medical societies and patient groups.

“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in men and women. It is most often diagnosed in those ages 65 to 74,” the ACR points out. “Yet, at least a third of those 50 and older who should be screened choose not to be tested. Medicare coverage for virtual colonoscopy would offer an attractive, less-invasive option to help solve this problem.”

Click here for the full statement.