Thursday, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, AL-07, joined Reps. Jodey Arrington, TX-19, Richard Hudson, NC-09, and Raul Ruiz, CA-25, to introduce the Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) Screening Coverage Act, named for Rep. Sewell’s late mother who passed away in 2021 from pancreatic cancer.
This bipartisan legislation would create a pathway for Medicare to cover emerging blood-based cancer screenings which hold the potential to catch cancer earlier than ever before. Last Congress, the bill garnered the support of a bipartisan majority of both the House and Senate—with 258 House cosponsors and 54 Senate cosponsors—and over 400 organizations across the nation.
“No family in America has been spared the scourge of cancer,” said Rep. Sewell, lead Democratic sponsor. “Fortunately, innovative multi-cancer early detection screenings are emerging which hold the potential to detect cancer earlier than ever before. I’m proud to once again introduce the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, named for my late mother Nancy Gardner Sewell, to ensure that our seniors can access these tools once they are FDA approved. Not only will this bill save lives, but it will also help reduce the glaring racial disparities in cancer diagnosis and death. I look forward to harnessing our momentum from the 117th Congress to get this bill across the finish line!”
“Multi-cancer early detection is one of the many incredible examples of the United States leading in medical innovation,” said Rep. Arrington, lead Republican sponsor. “This type of screening has the potential to improve quality of life for millions of American cancer patients and their families while saving taxpayer dollars by treating cancer before it spreads. I am proud of the bipartisan support this bill gained last Congress and remain firm in my belief that this legislation will drastically improve our ability to treat and prevent cancer.”
“Too many families are devastated by a cancer diagnosis every day in the United States,” said Rep. Hudson. “By increasing access to multi-cancer early detection screening tests through Medicare, we can detect cancers sooner and save lives in North Carolina and around the country. As a member of the Health Subcommittee, I once again look forward to advancing this bipartisan legislation.”
“Detecting cancer early improves health outcomes and saves lives,” said Dr. Ruiz. “With innovative medical technologies, we can catch more cancers earlier than ever, but patients must be able to access these screenings. That’s why it’s very important for Medicare policy to keep pace with the development of multi-cancer screenings. I am glad to join my colleagues in introducing the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act to modernize Medicare coverage so older Americans can access these screenings and improve their health outcomes.”
The Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would increase seniors’ timely access to multi-cancer early detection technology by creating a pathway to Medicare coverage. This bill will allow for Medicare coverage of MCED screenings once they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. New MCED screening tools will complement existing screening and dramatically improve our nation’s cancer early detection capabilities. Currently, we are only able to commonly screen for five cancers and just 14 percent of cancers are found through screenings.
The impact of late-stage cancer diagnosis is magnified in communities of color and throughout rural America where overall cancer outcomes are worse. These tools introduce a significant shift in the cancer screening landscape. Ensuring seniors have timely access is essential since age is the primary risk factor for cancer and more than 70 percent of cancer diagnoses are in the Medicare population. This legislation will open the door to a new era of detecting and treating cancer while ensuring that our most vulnerable citizens are not left behind.
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Create the authority for CMS to cover blood-based MCED tests and future test methods once approved by the FDA and shown to have clinical benefit.
- Maintain CMS’ authority to use an evidence-based process to determine coverage parameters for these new tests.
- Clarify that (1) these new tools will complement, not replace, existing screenings and coverage and (2) cost sharing will not be impacted.
“People of color are at the greatest risk for cancer deaths, at least partly because of disparities in early detection,” said Thomas “Ted” Greer Jr., CEO of Alabama Regional Medical Services based in Birmingham, Alabama. “We believe new screening technologies offer a chance to reduce those disparities, and we applaud Rep. Sewell’s steadfast leadership to clear a path for these tests to be accessible to those at highest risk for cancer.”
“The Multi Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would potentially expand access to cancer screenings in Medicare. The bill would allow the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to initiate an evidence-based coverage process for a multi-cancer screening test following FDA approval and once shown to have clinical benefit. ACS CAN supports the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act to provide Medicare coverage of screening tests that are FDA approved. Cancer screening and early detection are key priorities for ACS CAN.” – American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network.
“Early detection of cancer is vital to closing the gap in screening and eliminating the scourge of preventable death, hospitalizations and high costs on minority and disadvantaged populations. With only 14 percent of cancers found with current available screening, far too many lives are lost to late stage cancer diagnosis. National Minority Quality Forum is dedicated to shifting cancer stage diagnosis and applaud the tireless work of Representatives Arrington, Sewell, Hudson, and Ruiz to introduce legislation that will help ensure access to MCED tests within Medicare once they are approved by the FDA.” – National Minority Quality Forum.
“The importance of detecting cancer early cannot be overstated. With the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, Congress can unlock a new era in how cancer is detected and treated. We thank the sponsors and cosponsors for recognizing that older adults are at the most risk for cancer and we must create a pathway to access the latest cancer detection tools. We’ve been proud to bring an astounding 400+ organizations together in calling for the passage of the bill. Let’s make early detection a reality for Medicare beneficiaries.” – Prevent Cancer Foundation.
“MCED technology holds the potential to alter the current cancer screening paradigm by providing the oncology community with the tools they need to find many more cancers in earlier, more treatable stages. ACCC is committed to advancing best practices and policies that will facilitate the integration of MCED tests into our health care system and that includes supporting the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act. The war on cancer requires an all-hands-on deck approach and we need new tools, like MCED, to make a major impact. We’re grateful to leaders in Congress who are working to ensure older Americans can access this important new cancer screening tool.” – Association of Community Cancer Centers.
“Having served hundreds of thousands of patients since our founding, we at the Cancer Support Community (CSC) have witnessed both the experiences of those who benefited from early detection of their cancer and those who did not and were often diagnosed at later stages, due to barriers in knowledge, access, both coverage and logistical, or lack of existing tests for their cancer. On behalf of CSC, we are proud to add our voice to the chorus in urging passage of the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act which has widespread support from Congress and the cancer community and applaud Representatives Arrington, Sewell, Hudson, and Ruiz for helping to ensure that government keeps up with the speed of healthcare innovation.” – Cancer Support Community.
“The lung cancer community knows how important cancer screening tests are for treating and even curing the disease. But we need early detection capabilities for many more cancers and we need it urgently to save lives. That’s what multi-cancer early detection technology offers through a simple blood draw that screens for dozens of cancers. Representatives Arrington, Sewell, Hudson, and Ruiz are doing the important work of championing access to MCED tests within Medicare. The Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act will help remove barriers that could prevent use of the tests by those most at-risk for all cancers – older Americans. We urge others to join them in this fight.” – Foundation for Lung Cancer.
“The Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act is an important step toward early detection for many cancers. We are making real progress in screening more Americans for colorectal cancer and innovations in screening tools is a key part of that. As technology advances, we must ensure that all patients have access to new, safe and effective technology. We commend Representatives Arrington, Sewell, Hudson, and Ruiz for taking an important step in that direction and working to have fewer Americans receive a cancer diagnosis.” – FIGHT Colorectal Cancer.
Find bill text here. Statements of support from more than 400 organizations across all 50 states can be found here.