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UHC’s promise to impose prior authorization for virtually all colonoscopies and endoscopies in “early 2024” puts critical care in limbo for its 27 million commercial beneficiaries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 20, 2023) – Today, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) issued the following statement on UnitedHealthcare’s destabilizing policies that are continuing to generate confusion and anxiety, increase administrative burden, and, most importantly, threaten patients’ access to the colonoscopies and endoscopies they need:

This was a challenging year for patients who had an abnormal polyp in their colon, experienced intense gastrointestinal pain, or discovered blood in their stool. Unfortunately, UnitedHealthcare’s troubling announcement that it plans to impose prior authorization for virtually all endoscopy and colonoscopy services in “early 2024” ensures that next year will be even more unsettling and bring greater uncertainty for its 27 million commercial beneficiaries.

AGA has expressed strong concerns regarding the 2024 implementation of UHC’s prior authorization program for GI procedures, citing a lack of transparency, inadequate justification, and negative impacts on patient care. AGA has urged UHC to reconsider and engage in meaningful dialogue to ensure patient access to necessary medical services without unnecessary administrative burdens. UnitedHealthcare has not responded.

Lawmakers’ scrutiny of UnitedHealthcare’s policy intensified this year, with several calling for the payor to abandon prior authorization, which interferes with medical decision-making. In an advocacy piece, Representative Mark Green (R-TN), a physician and colon cancer survivor, emphasized the risk this policy poses to patient care, echoing sentiments from a floor speech by Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), who stated, “We cannot allow administrative hurdles to jeopardize patients’ access to essential medical procedures.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reiterated these concerns in a letter to UHC, urging a reevaluation of the policy’s impact on patient care.

UnitedHealthcare’s silence persisted despite relentless pressure from patients, physicians, and bipartisan support from multiple members of Congress, a testament to the breadth and depth of concern within the healthcare and public policy community.

Looking forward, UHC’s plan to roll out prior authorization in early 2024 looms ominously. Such a move would be catastrophic, impeding timely access to crucial diagnostic procedures, hindering patient care, and exacerbating problematic health disparities.

In response to this impending crisis, Dr. Barbara Jung, President of AGA, voiced grave concern, stating, “UnitedHealthcare’s prior authorization policy poses an imminent threat to patient care, hindering access to essential procedures that are pivotal for timely diagnoses and interventions.”

In conclusion, the AGA urges UHC to break its silence, provide clarity to patients and providers, and ultimately reverse plans to impose a prior authorization policy for colonoscopies and endoscopies in 2024.

For more details, please refer to the AGA Campaign to #StopUHC.

Media contact: Rebecca Reid, [email protected], 410-212-3843


About AGA Institute  
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, 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. For more information, visit  


Learn more about how UHC’s planned GI prior authorization policy will affect patients and practices at   

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