The Honorable Carolyn Maloney
U.S. House of Representatives
2430 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Maloney:
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) endorses your legislation, H.R.1285, the Cancer Screening Coverage Act of 1999, which would require that group and individual health insurance and group health plans cover cancer screening procedures. This bill would ensure that all citizens have access to the testing necessary for diagnosing and monitoring these deadly diseases. (Medicare already covers cancer screening for its participants.)
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 563,000 individuals will die from cancer-related deaths in 1999-many of which are preventable. Nearly one-half of new cancer cases involve breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate and other cancers that can be detected early through screening tests. The five-year survival rate for those individuals with screening-accessible cancers is 81 percent. However, the ACS states that this survival rate could increase to 95 percent if all Americans participated in regular cancer screenings.
In addition to saving lives, early detection could lead to significant cost savings to the health care system. The National Institutes of Health estimates the overall annual costs for cancer at $107 billion, including $37 billion in direct medical costs. More than half of these medical costs are associated with the treatment of breast, lung and prostate cancers. Thus, additional preventive tests should further reduce cancer-related deaths, as well as overall health care costs. Therefore, AACC supports the adoption of H.R. 1285.
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 President