Melissa McLain, ACS CAN Volunteer

Fort Gibson

Oklahoma lawmakers have an opportunity to stand up for older Americans by closing a loophole that can discourage people from getting their recommended cancer screenings.

If you’re on private health insurance, your colonoscopy is covered without any out-of-pocket cost as a preventive service. But because of a legal loophole, people on Medicare can be charged for their screening if a polyp is found and removed during the procedure — the very thing that helps save lives from colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the United States, yet it can be prevented with regular screening. Approximately 50 percent of colorectal cancer deaths in 2020 will be due to people not getting screened as recommended — and research shows that seniors on Medicare are less likely to get their recommended screenings if there is an out-of-pocket cost.

We should close this loophole that could discourage seniors from getting the screenings they need to live long and healthy lives. That’s why I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge Senator Lankford and Senator Inhofe to support bipartisan legislation that would eliminate this surprise cost and ensure those on Medicare have the same access to colorectal cancer screening as those with private insurance.

Join me in calling on our Senators to do the right thing for older Oklahomans. By removing an obstacle that deters older Americans from getting a colonoscopy, our lawmakers can help more people to get screened and prevent cancer.

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