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4/13/2021 Assembly backs bill requiring full coverage of colorectal cancer screening
Bill was amended to honor Senator Goodwin

STATE HOUSE – With votes in both chambers today, the General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and House Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman to require full insurance coverage of colorectal cancer screenings.

The legislation (2021-S 0383A, 2021-H 5432A) will require health insurers to cover preventive colorectal cancer screening, including all colorectal cancer examinations and laboratory tests in accordance with American Cancer Society Guidelines. That 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.

Representative Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) pointed to the bill’s broad support from policymakers, doctors and patients and insurers.

“Early detection saves lives. Colorectal cancer is the second most common type of cancer, and it is 90 percent curable if it is caught early. In addition to saving lives, identifying colorectal cancer early saves money because treating it then is far less complicated and less costly than when it is advanced,” said Representative Ackerman. “Everybody involved – doctors, patients and insurers – is on board with this bill, and I’m proud to have been able to bring it to passage this year. It’s a bill that will truly save lives.”

The legislation was amended by the Senate and the House Health and Human Services Committee to name it “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 it will finally head to the governor for a signature this time.

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.

The bills will now head to the governor’s desk.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923