CONTACT: Arnulfo Moreno
Bethesda, MD (June 4, 2018) — Members of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) are on Capitol Hill to ensure the voice of gastroenterology and digestive disease patients is heard by Members of Congress. AGA supports increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and biomedical research, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, and the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act. These congressional meetings are part of AGA’s program at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2018, an annual gathering of more than 15,000 GIs.
“As a trusted voice in the gastroenterology community, AGA is dedicated to improving patient care and ensuring there are sustainable research opportunities, so that we may continue to provide the highest quality care,” said Timothy C. Wang, MD, AGAF, chair of the AGA.
AGA supports increasing NIH funding to $39.3 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2019.
AGA appreciates the strong bipartisan support that Congress demonstrated by increasing NIH’s budget by $3 billion in FY 2018. However, investing in research must be continuous and funding NIH at $39.3 billion will enable the institute to build on the momentum of recent increases and expand NIH’s capacity to support promising research in all disciplines. Increasing NIH funding will continue to spur economic growth and development, create jobs, and maintain our country’s global competitiveness in the life sciences industry.
“We’re fortunate that DDW is taking place in the nation’s capital this year as it gives us the opportunity to meet with lawmakers and provide our expertise on laws that directly affect our patients,” said Dr. Wang. “We specifically addressed laws that make it harder for patients to afford care and harder for patients to stay on the treatments prescribed by their physicians. This is why AGA supports the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act and Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act.”
AGA urges Congress to correct a “cost sharing” problem that arose in the Affordable Care Act.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act waives the coinsurance and deductible for colorectal cancer screening tests unless a polyp is found — removal of any polyp reclassifies the screening as a therapeutic procedure for which patients must pay coinsurance. The administration has clarified its policy related to cost sharing for colonoscopy for privately insured patients. However, due to the unique nature of colonoscopy, many patients with Medicare will still wind up paying out of pocket. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (HR 1017/S.479) would waive coinsurance payment regardless of the screening outcome. Rep. Leonard Lance, R-NJ, the lead Republican sponsor, Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-CA, and Rep. Scott Peters, D-CA, all members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and supporters of the bill, have advocated that the bill receive a hearing this year to help move it through Congress. The bill continues to have wide bipartisan support.
AGA urges Congress to help patients receive the care their provider prescribes.
Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act (HR 2077) would provide patients and providers with a fair and equitable appeals process when step therapy has been imposed, and provides common sense exceptions for the provider to appeal. More and more patients are being subject to step therapy protocols, also known as “fail first,” under which they are required to try and fail sometimes two or three therapies before receiving coverage of the initial therapy recommended by their physician. Patients should be given a clear, equitable and transparent appeals process when subjected to step therapy protocols. With the emergence of new biologics to treat diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, more and more digestive disease patients are being subject to these protocols, which can have adverse effects on their health.
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About the AGA Institute
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.
Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW takes place June 2-5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. The meeting showcases more than 5,000 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology. More information can be found at www.ddw.org.