Representative William Thomas
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Thomas:
We, the undersigned organizations, are pleased to endorse your legislation, H.R.15, the "Medicare Preventive Benefit Improvement Act of 1997," which would extend Medicare coverage to certain cancer screening tests and diabetes treatments. We believe that early diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases is critical to reducing U.S. mortality rates and long-term health care costs.
Last year, the American Cancer Society projected that nearly 150,000 individuals would die from breast, prostate, cervical and colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, many of these deaths could have been prevented through early diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention. H.R.15 will help physicians and other health care providers meet this challenge by expanding patient access to cancer screening services, thereby reducing deaths attributed to cancer.
H.R.15 also authorizes Medicare to pay for diabetes self-management courses to educate diabetics about proper nutrition, exercise, blood sugar monitoring and medication. We support this decision. Currently Medicare spends in excess $28 billion annually treating individuals with diabetes—more than a quarter of its annual budget. By paying for preventive and educational services, H.R.15 will improve the health of many people with diabetes, providing them with greater control over their lives, while also reducing long-term Medicare costs.
We do recommend, however, that you modify the legislation to delete specific references to testing procedures. Clinical laboratory science is a rapidly changing field, with new tests constantly being developed and existing tests modified. Rather than placing certain procedures in the statute, we suggest that responsibility be given to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), who can make the changes, as necessary, through the regulatory process.
If any of our groups may be of any assistance to you, or if you have any questions about our comments, please call.
American Association for Clinical Chemistry American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
American Clinical Laboratory Association American Society of Clinical Pathologists
American Diabetes Association Clinical Laboratory Management Association
American Medical Technologists The Endocrine Society
Organizations Contact Phone #
American Association for Clinical Chemistry Vince Stine (202) 835-8721
American Clinical Laboratory Association David Sundwall, MD (202) 637-9466
American Diabetes Association Joe LaMountain (703) 299-2060
American Medical Technologists Mike McCarty, JD (202) 342-0800
American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Deanna Lavanty (703) 525-5424
American Society of Clinical Pathologists Robin Stombler (202) 347-4450
Clinical Laboratory Management Association Jeff Boothe (202) 496-4914
The Endocrine Society Sean Tipton (301) 941-0255