The Honorable Louise M. Slaughter
U.S. House of Representatives
2347 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Slaughter:
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) endorses your legislation, H.R.1816, the "Eliminate Colorectal Cancer Act of 1999," which would require private insurance companies to cover colorectal screening tests for anyone over age 50. This bill would ensure that all citizens have access to the testing necessary for diagnosing and monitoring this deadly disease. (Medicare already covers colorectal screening for its participants.)
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 56,000 Americans will die from colorectal cancer this year, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, many of these deaths could have been prevented through early diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention. The good news is that colorectal cancer is 91 percent curable if detected in the early stages. The bad news is that only 37 percent of all colorectal cancers are diagnosed in this stage.
H.R.1816 addresses this problem, however, by requiring that health plans provide colorectal cancer screening at regular intervals to individuals over the age of 50 or individuals under the age of 50, who are at high risk for contracting colorectal cancer or have symptoms. The patient's health care provider would determine the method and frequency of the screening. We believe this is a very reasonable and forward-thinking recommendation and support it wholeheartedly.
By way of background, AACC is the principal association of professional laboratory scientists--including MDs, PhDs and medical technologists. AACC's members develop and use chemical concepts, procedures, techniques and instrumentation in health-related investigations and work in hospitals, independent laboratories and the diagnostics industry nationwide. The AACC's objectives are to further the public interest and educational activities and to help maintain high professional standards.
If you have any questions or we may be of any assistance, please call me at (405) 271-3571 or Vince Stine, Director, Government Affairs, at (202) 835-8721.
K. Michael Parker, PhD