This Week – March 16, 2012

Update from Washington DC:

  1. ACG Participates in “Fight Colorectal Cancer” Event
  2. ACG Meets with FDA to Discuss Drug Shortages
  3. ACG Joins DDNC on Capitol Hill

ACG Governor Buddy Stern Speaks to Patient Advocacy Group
On March 6th, ACG Governor William R. Stern, MD, FACG helped prepare a group of over 60 colorectal cancer patients, survivors, their families and friends for upcoming visits to Capitol Hill. The “Fight Colorectal Cancer” organization invited the College to discuss patient cost-sharing for preventive colorectal cancer screening and a consequence triggered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known as the “ACA”), where Medicare beneficiaries are hit with an unexpected co-pay if their physician finds and removes a polyp during screening colonoscopy.

Dr. Stern, ACG’s Governor for Maryland, explained that the so-called "post-polypectomy surprise" is addressed in two bills supported by the College, the SCREEN Act, H.R. 3198 introduced by Representative Richard Neal (D-MA), as well as in H.R. 4120, a bill introduced recently by Congressman Charles Dent (R-PA). Dr. Stern offered the patient advocates a concise overview of the issue and also shared his perspective on meeting with legislators in Washington, DC and interacting with their staff members. 

Please click here to read ACG’s letter to Rep. Dent endorsing this important legislation.

ACG is actively promoting “National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” on Capitol Hill and across the country.  Please see below a summary of federal legislation ACG supports in the fight against colorectal cancer:

SCREEN Act (HR 3198) Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening (HR 4120) Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment Act (HR 912; S494) The Issuance and sale of a semi postal for the fight against colorectal cancer (HR 893)
Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT)

Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA)
Waives patient cost-sharing for CRC screenings turning into therapeutic procedures in Medicare as well as the private insurance market.

Increases reimbursement to physicians demonstrating that they are participating in a nationally recognized quality improvement registry.

Provides Medicare coverage for a pre-screening office visit (currently Medicare covers an office visit prior to diagnostic colonoscopy.

Waives patient cost-sharing for CRC screenings turning into therapeutic procedures in Medicare. Funds programs to promote CRC screenings and treatment for colorectal cancer via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Targets low-income individuals between 50 – 64 years of age (pre-Medicare population), or those under 50 years old but with high risk of such cancer.

Provides for the U.S. Postal Service to issue stamps to help fight colorectal cancer, with proceeds transferred to the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program for colorectal cancer research; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for colorectal cancer control programs; and the remainder shall be transferred to the National Institutes of Health for colorectal cancer research.

ACG Working with FDA to Resolve Drug Shortages
Also on March 6th, representatives from ACG’s FDA Related Matters Committee met with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials to convey the importance of resolving drug shortages currently impacting many GI clinicians.  This meeting was part of ACG’s ongoing dialogue with the FDA on this important issue.  The agency provided an update on certain sedatives commonly used in endoscopy centers and hospitals.  ACG stressed to the Agency that drug shortages are also occurring in other areas of GI as well, such as methotrexate for treatment in Crohn’s disease. 

According to the FDA, the product availability timeframes for certain drugs are as follows:

Versed (midazolam): Hospitals and endoscopy centers should expect more product availability in the coming weeks.

Sublimaze (fentanyl): Manufacturers have accelerated production and are releasing the product as soon as it becomes available, which may occur beginning this month (March).

Meperidine: Manufactures have also accelerated production and are expected to begin delivering more products in the upcoming weeks.

The FDA also urged ACG to engage members of Congress and other interested parties to help resolve drug shortages.  Fortunately, ACG has already met with various key Capitol Hill staffers and other offices on this issue.  ACG will continue to relay stories of shortage problems occurring in Members of Congress’ districts and states. 

Please contact ACG if your practice is experiencing problems accessing certain drugs or have been forced to cancel patient appointments due to these shortages.  

Please click here to read ACG’s letter to the FDA (Feb. 2, 2012) and the FDA response letter (Feb. 28, 2012):

ACG letter to FDA dated February 2, 2012

FDA response letter dated February 28, 2012

ACG Participates in DDNC Health Policy Meeting & Capitol Hill Visits  
On March 4 & 5th, the Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC) held its annual Washington DC public policy meeting and Capitol Hill visits.  Representing the College were Peter Banks, MD MACG as well as Costas Kefalas, MD FACG. 

Drs. Banks and Kefalas participated in this coalition of like-minded specialty societies and patient advocacy groups to further educate Capitol Hill staff on important health policy issues impacting clinical gastroenterology and our patients. 

Peter Banks, MD MACG and Costas Kefalas, MD FACG (far left and far right respectively) shown here with Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX)

Please stay tuned for further updates. Please also share and discuss your thoughts with fellow ACG members on the ACG GI Circle. To login and share your comments, go to and sign in as a member. Once you have done so, click here and then click the orange "Visit ACG GI Circle" button to be taken to the GI Circle site. If you have not yet activated your ACG GI Circle account, please email us at

Contact Brad Conway, VP Public Policy, with any questions or for more information.

Brad Conway