News Article

Bill to provide Medicare coverage for cancer screening tests introduced in Senate
June 26, 2023


By: Dave Kovaleski

A bipartisan group of senators have introduced legislation that would provide Medicare coverage for cancer screening tests.

The Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) Screening Coverage Act would ensure that Medicare patients have coverage for innovative tests that can detect multiple types of cancer before symptoms develop.

“Multi-cancer early detection testing technologies have the potential to provide a vital new tool in the fight against cancer, transforming the screening landscape to detect as many as dozens of cancer types, often long before symptoms even emerge,” said U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee and one of the bill’s sponsors. “This bill has the potential to save and enhance lives, as well as to reduce long-term cost burdens for patients, families and caregivers.”

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) are also sponsors of the bill.

“I know from my personal experience with cancer that early detection can make all the difference and save lives,” Bennet said. “That’s why it’s so important for Congress to pass this bill and ensure Colorado seniors on Medicare can access early detection, multi-cancer screening tests.”

The Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would establish a coverage pathway under Medicare for certain Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved MCED tests, which can screen for dozens of cancer types. It would also authorize the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide Medicare coverage for FDA-approved MCED screening tests. Further, CMS will maintain its authority to use an evidence-based process to determine coverage parameters for these new tests. Finally, it states that new diagnostic technologies will supplement, not replace, existing screenings and will not impact existing coverage and cost-sharing.

“Early detection of cancer saves lives, so there should be no hesitation in allowing Medicare to cover the latest diagnosis tools once they have been shown effective,” Cardin said. “Newly emerging multi-cancer early detection testing also has the potential to reduce disparities in cancer treatment and outcomes that persist in communities of color, which experience higher rates of incidence and death due to lower rates of routine cancer screening.”

The MCED Act has the support of over 500 leading health care organizations across the United States, including the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

“Without systems driving us forward to ignite change, existing disparities and the number of cancers found in late stages are likely to remain stagnant,” Jody Hoyos, CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, said. “We appreciate the leadership of Senators Crapo, Bennet, Scott and Cardin, and their commitment to innovation in cancer prevention and early detection to save lives.”

Companion legislation, H.R. 2407, was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.