Early detection is crucial in a world where cancer remains a leading cause of death. That is the aim of the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that can potentially change the landscape of cancer screenings in the United States. The bill, introduced in the Senate, seeks to increase equitable access to innovative cancer screenings, particularly for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill
The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill is championed by Senators Mike Bennet, Mike Crapo, Ben Cardin, and Tim Scott. These bipartisan leaders recognize the significance of such legislation in improving the early detection of more cancers for more individuals. Notably, the bill would allow Medicare to cover multi-cancer screening tests, but only after they have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and proven to have a clinical benefit.
The Importance of Medicare Coverage
Medicare beneficiaries, composed mainly of older individuals, are especially vulnerable to cancer due to the disease’s increased risk with age. As such, the majority of individuals diagnosed with cancer are Medicare beneficiaries. This Act ensures timely Medicare coverage of new, innovative multi-cancer screening tests, expanding access to early detection once a clinical benefit is shown. By providing coverage for these tests, the bill allows these beneficiaries to have potentially lifesaving screenings.
Innovative Multi-Cancer Screening Tests
The promise of the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill lies in its support of innovative multi-cancer screening tests. Several private and academic entities are currently developing these tests, which could revolutionize the field of cancer detection. Importantly, these tests are blood-based, making them less invasive and more accessible than many cancer screening methods. Preliminary data indicate that these tests can screen for multiple cancers simultaneously, including rare cancers that are often difficult to detect early.
A Message from Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)
Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), strongly supports the bill. She notes the importance of early detection in the fight against cancer and the persistent disparities in cancer mortality rates across racial, socioeconomic, and geographic lines. Lacasse suggests that a simple blood test, as proposed in the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill, could extend screening opportunities to rural areas and communities of color. Once FDA-approved and proven effective, these tests could ensure Medicare recipients have access to these innovative screening options.
The Support and the Hope for the Future
The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill has gained widespread bipartisan support. The Act received over 300 co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle in the 117th Congress. The current House version of the Act, led by Representatives Jodey Arrington and Terri Sewell, has 118 co-sponsors. These representatives, along with Senators Bennet, Crapo, Cardin, and Scott, have been thanked for their efforts in championing this lifesaving legislation. The hope is that Congress will prioritize the passage of this vital legislation this year.
What is the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill?
The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Bill aims to improve equitable access to new and innovative cancer screenings among Medicare beneficiaries. The bill would allow Medicare to cover multi-cancer screening tests once approved by the FDA and shown to have clinical benefits.
Who are the key supporters?
The legislation was introduced in the Senate on June 22, 2023, and as of that time, it was being championed by Senators Mike Bennet (D-CO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Tim Scott (R-SC). The current House version of the Act (HR2407) was led by Representatives Jodey Arrington (R-TX) and Terri Sewell (D-AL). The Act had received over 300 co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle in the 117th Congress.
Check the official Congressional websites or contact the offices of your local representatives for the most up-to-date information.