Wicker reintroduces bipartisan bill to revamp Medicare pay policy on colonoscopies

Senior Americans wouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket costs for preventive colonoscopies under a bipartisan measure cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).

“Seniors should not have to worry about the threat of unexpected medical costs when considering whether to pursue this effective preventive care,” Sen. Wicker said on March 8.

Sen. Wicker is the lead original cosponsor of the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, S.668, which would update Medicare policy to ensure senior citizens aren’t charged for the cancer-detecting procedure. 

Currently, colorectal cancer screenings done by a colonoscopy are free under Medicare unless a polyp or other harmful tissue is removed during the procedure, according to the lawmaker.

“This legislation would provide a much-needed fix to current Medicare policy regarding colonoscopies,” said Sen. Wicker. “Most colorectal cancer is preventable, making these screenings vital to saving lives.” 

If enacted, Sen. Wicker said that S. 668 would waive cost-sharing under Medicare for preventive colonoscopies, regardless of whether a polyp or tissue is removed.

Forty-one other senators joined Sen. Wicker as a cosponsor of S. 668, introduced on March 6 by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), including U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

S. 668 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

In 2017, Sen. Wicker cosponsored the same-named bill, S. 479, during the 115th Congress that garnered 61 cosponsors but languished during Senate Finance Committee review. The U.S. House version, H.R. 1017, which had 305 cosponsors, also didn’t make it past subcommittee and committee consideration, prompting the bill’s reintroduction during the current congressional session.