This Week – March 7, 2015

This Week in Washington DC:

  1. ACG meets with CMS Leadership and Members of Congress
  2. Bill Introduced to Eliminate Screening Colonoscopy Cost-Sharing in Medicare
  3. FDA Safety Alert: Updated Information for Healthcare Providers Regarding Duodenoscopes

ACG in Washington D.C. to Promote National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

On Wednesday March 4th, ACG’s National Affairs Committee Chair, Caroll Koscheski, MD, FACG, met with CMS leadership and members of Congress to promote the “80% by 2018” initiative and the importance of colorectal cancer screening in Medicare. ACG and many other stakeholder organizations have come together with one goal: to have 80% of eligible Americans screened by 2018. Members of this initiative include the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the American Cancer Society, many patient advocacy groups, as well as the AGA and ASGE.

Dr. Koscheski emphasized the importance in preserving the public health success story of colorectal cancer screening and colonoscopy. Medicare has made great strides in increasing access to screening and screening utilization rates. This is one reason why colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped 30% over the last ten years among adults 50 and older.  However, many Medicare beneficiaries are still not being screened. Yet according to the American Cancer Society’s latest statistics, the Medicare-age population will continue to be at most risk of developing colorectal cancer. To sustain this trend in lower incidence rates, Medicare must continue to foster policies that promote colonoscopy as well as other recommended screening tests. ACG’s official 2009 screening guidelines distinguish between tests that prevent colorectal cancer vs. tests that detect colorectal cancer. ACG recommends colonoscopy as the preferred cancer prevention strategy. These statistics on lower incidence rates, and other peer-reviewed studies on screening colonoscopy, support ACG’s position that colonoscopy is the preferred colorectal cancer prevention tool. However, ACG continues to support and promote other recommended and proven colorectal cancer screening/detection tests. In July, Medicare is expected to announce reimbursement changes to colonoscopy for calendar year 2016.

Dr. Koscheski also met with many congressional leaders sitting on committees with jurisdiction on health care. In addition to promoting the “80% by 2018” campaign, Dr. Koscheski educated members of Congress on the various reporting and regulatory burdens many ACG members in private practice face today. This has led to more time completing administrative duties and less time seeing patients. ACG will continue to serve as the public policy voice on issues important to the GI clinician in private practice. ACG also thanks Dr. Koscheski for taking time away from his practice and family in order to advocate on behalf of ACG members.

Bill Introduced to Eliminate Financial Barriers to Screening Colonoscopy

The College is pleased to inform its members that legislation introduced this week by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) seeks to remove the Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing quirk for any screening colonoscopy turning therapeutic (S. 624). Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT), Charlie Dent (D-NJ), and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), also joined Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) in introducing the companion bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1220). ACG will help promote and advocate for the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2015.

On behalf of its members in clinical practice and the patients, ACG has advocated for over a decade for changes to Medicare relating to colorectal cancer screening coverage and cost-sharing. ACG appreciates those in Congress striving to increase colon cancer screening rates while lowering barriers to these life-saving preventive services.

Please read the press release from the bill’s sponsors that includes quotes from ACG President, Stephen Hanauer, MD, FACG, as well as the GI societies and other stakeholders endorsing this bill:

FDA Issues Further Guidance on Duodenoscopes and ERCP

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the public this week that the agency has received inquiries about whether providers should cancel ERCP procedures, based on the fact that one specific model duodenoscope manufactured by Olympus (the TJF-Q180V) does not currently have a regulatory 510(k) clearance.

The FDA is not recommending that healthcare providers cancel ERCP procedures for their patients who need them. The FDA’s analysis indicates that the reported duodenoscope-associated infections have occurred in patients who have had procedures with duodenoscopes from other manufacturers as well. At this time, FDA has no evidence that the lack of a 510(k) clearance was associated with the infections. Please visit the ACG website to read the full FDA guidance, as well as other important FDA safety alerts impacting clinical GI:

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