Senate backs bill requiring full coverage of
colorectal cancer screening

Senate amends name of bill to honor Senator Goodwin

STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin requiring full insurance coverage of colorectal cancer screenings.

The legislation (2021-A 0383A) would require health insurers to cover preventive colorectal cancer screening for all colorectal cancer examinations and laboratory tests in accordance with American Cancer Society Guidelines. This coverage must be provided without cost-sharing as long as the services are performed in the insurer’s network, and includes an initial screening and a follow-up colonoscopy if the results of the screening are abnormal.

“I can personally attest to how critically important it is that everyone is able to get recommended colorectal cancer screening. Cancer screening is routine preventive care that catches cancer early and saves lives as well as reducing health care costs down the road. Copays, cost-sharing and insurers that don’t cover pre-screening only discourage people from getting the care they need to protect themselves. This legislation will save lives by increasing access to these life-saving screenings,” said Senator Goodwin, who is currently undergoing treatment for colon cancer herself.

An amendment sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) and approved by the Senate renamed the bill “The Maryellen Goodwin Colorectal Screening Act” to honor Senator Goodwin’s advocacy for cancer screening coverage. She has sponsored the act for three years – beginning before her own diagnosis – and the Senate has approved it each time.

The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) is sponsoring companion legislation (2021-H 5432).

American Cancer Society Guidelines recommend that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women combined in Rhode Island as well as in the United States. An estimated 490 people in Rhode Island will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and about 160 people Rhode Islanders will die from this disease in 2021.

 

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