Sen. Davis seeks to make colorectal cancer screenings available at earlier age

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AUGUSTA – Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville introduced LD 555 “An Act To Reduce Colorectal Cancer Incidence and Mortality by Updating Screening Coverage” late last month to the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. With this bill, Sen. Davis hopes to remove the reference to the minimum age at which insurance companies must cover colorectal cancer screenings, replacing it instead with language to look to the most recently published guidelines by a national cancer society as to when those screenings should occur.

“Current law requires insurance to cover colorectal screenings for individuals 50 years of age and older;” said Sen. Davis. “Given that new data from the American Cancer Society found that colorectal cancer has increased amongst individuals under the age of 50 and that it is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women, I think it’s important for insurance companies to cover these screenings earlier.

Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville

“I know how quickly colorectal cancer can progress, as my wife is a survivor. Luckily, she was able to beat her cancer because it was detected early enough by a routine screening. Cancer has a big impact on families and we should do what we can to help reduce the number of Maine families that have to experience what my family has.”

LD 555 would also update which screenings can be covered. There are multiple types of screenings that can be done, including the colonoscopy and the less invasive and less expensive Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT test). Under current law, if someone opts for a FIT test and the doctor wants to follow up with a colonoscopy, often only the FIT test would be covered by insurance as part of a preventative screening, but if a colonoscopy is performed in the first place, it would be covered. This bill would update the law to require coverage of all recommended colorectal examinations and lab tests recommended by a health care provider as part of the screening.

Supporters of this legislation include the American Cancer Society, the Maine Hospital Association and Maine Primary Care Association.

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