Gut Check | Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Colorectal Cancer Awareness: Where Legislation Stands
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so SGNA's Healthcare Policy Committee Chair Kathy Vinci, DIPL RNC CGRN shared her knowledge as to where legislation stands on colorectal cancer in 2018.
GI nurses and associates know that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90 percent of cases occur in people aged 50 or older. Currently, new evidence shows that cases of colon cancer are starting to rise in younger age groups.
Legislators are still very much interested in the personal stories from voters and patients from their own states and are well aware of our concerns with the Affordable Care Act and Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screening Act.
The Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC) agenda has key areas of concern, which are research, patient access to care and prevention and awareness. For each research area, the DDNC supports $38.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, aggressive implementation of the National Cancer Moonshot, and $310 million for the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program.
The DDNC patient access to care focuses on the Passage of the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (H.R. 1017/S. 479), which would eliminate cost sharing for initial and follow-up colorectal cancer screening tests for Medicare beneficiaries. Passage of the Restoring the Patient's Voice Act (H.R. 2077), which would establish guidelines for appealing step therapy protocols under ERISA health plans. Preservation of basic patient protections from the Affordable Care Act, including prohibiting discrimination against patients with preexisting conditions, maintaining a national essential health benefits quality standard for insurance coverage, and allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26.
The DDNC focus area on prevention and awareness supports research — $50 million for CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Prevention program and $1 million for CDC’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease program.
SGNA has given out scholarships again this year for the DDNC Public Policy Forum. The SGNA delegation will speak to our legislators and remind them of our concerns for all our GI patients. SGNA will continue to advocate for better patient care, continued research and prevention, and awareness efforts.
Some resources that GI nurses could use to educate both themselves and their patients are right at their fingertips on the SGNA website, which is a comprehensive resource. On the main page of the website, under “Connect,” there is a page dedicated to Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This page informs you of events, webinars, live streams and patient resources. It also tells you how to take action and contact your legislator. Included as well is information on how to obtain a proclamation from your governor, take the 80 percent by 2018 pledge and gives you access to an advocacy toolkit. As if that is not enough information, if you go to the Advocacy page under the “Connect” menu, it will show you links to SGNA partner organizations such as DDNC, NCCRT and Prevent Cancer Foundation. It has each organization's websites, which provide education for nurses and their patients.
Whether it’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness month or any other time of year, there are ample resources available at your fingertips to help you become more informed or get involved in the cause.