World Hepatitis Day: Demonstration Project Links Colorectal Cancer Screening and Hepatitis C Virus Screening

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    Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG Chair, ACG National Affairs

    Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG
    Chair, ACG National Affairs

    On Thursday, July 28th, ACG joined the CDC and other patient advocacy groups in commemorating “World Hepatitis Day.” To raise awareness to this issue, ACG urged Capitol Hill to pass the innovative Medicare demonstration project as authorized in the SCREEN Act.

    The SCREEN Act (S. 1079/H.R. 2035), introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Richard Neal (D-MA), seeks to increase the screening rates in the Medicare population for both colorectal cancer and Hepatitis C.

    Currently, Medicare only covers a Hepatitis C screening test if it is ordered by a primary care doctor or practitioner. This doesn’t take into account the fact that roughly 85-90% of those infected with chronic viral Hepatitis C are asymptomatic, and may not go to a primary care provider for a referral in the first place.  The SCREEN Act, however, would allow a provider to bill for an office visit to discuss colonoscopy preparation, answer patient questions, and serve as the required referral for Hepatitis C screening. Recent findings demonstrate that more patients will elect to undergo a Hepatitis C screening test if it is performed during the same clinical encounter as a screening colonoscopy (Sears, et al. “Birth Cohort Screening for Chronic Hepatitis during Colonoscopy Appointments,” Am J Gastroenterol 2013; 108:981–989).

    The SCREEN Act also would roll back unwarranted Medicare cuts to colonoscopy until the MIPS program begins in 2019.  ACG understands that this fight is an uphill battle, but we are not giving up.  If ACG and other societies are not fighting for your reimbursement on your behalf, no one else will.

    What can you do to help?

    View and share ACG’s infographic on the SCREEN Act and Hepatitis C screening.

    Contact your local elected officials and urge them to support the SCREEN Act here.

    Contact your ACG Governor on important state and local issues impacting you and your practice.

     

    Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG

    Chair, ACG National Affairs Committee

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