Legislation Put Forth by Congressional Leaders Will Help Reduce Inequities in Cancer Care
The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) today announced its support for The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 8845), sponsored by U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell (AL-07), Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Raul Ruiz (CA-36), and Richard Hudson (NC-08).
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, robbing more than 620,000 Americans of their lives every year. H.R. 8845 paves the way for Medicare coverage of emerging multi-cancer early detection tests (MCED), innovative technology that has the potential to have a positive impact on cancer morbidity and mortality rates for all populations, including, but not limited to, reducing inequities in cancer treatment and outcomes for communities of color.
African Americans have the highest mortality rates of any racial or ethnic group for most cancers and, while Hispanic men and women are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer than non-Hispanic whites overall, cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics. These disparities in mortality are associated with increased risks for certain cancers, and compromised and delayed access to effective care, both of which result from negative social determinants such as inadequate insurance coverage, environmental toxins, and inequitable access to quality healthcare.
"Early diagnosis is vital to efforts to improve cancer survival rates," said Gary A. Puckrein, PhD, NMQF President and CEO. "Today's cancer screening technologies, while effective, are limited to a handful of cancers. Multi-cancer early detection tests, which use a single blood draw to identify many different cancers before symptoms develop, are an astounding innovation in accuracy, accessibility and efficiency that fundamentally reduces patient risk for avoidable morbidity and mortality. A coordinated strategy is required to minimize barriers to FDA approval and to access. The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 8845) is an essential component of that strategy."
One of the most significant hurdles is the absence of a direct path to Medicare coverage, due to the retrogressive classification of MCED and other cancer screenings as preventive services.
"Patient risk is increased, precious lives are lost, and avoidable costs are incurred when potentially life-saving care is inaccessible," said Puckrein. "Leaders in Congress understand this and have taken this crucial step to introduce The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, which modernizes Medicare so that seniors will have the opportunity to benefit from these important technological advances in the battle against cancer."
About the National Minority Quality Forum
The mission of the National Minority Quality Forum is to reduce patient risk by assuring optimal care for all. NMQF's vision is an American health services research, delivery and financing system whose operating principle is to reduce patient risk for amenable morbidity and mortality while improving quality of life.
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Kelly Ann Collins