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American Cancer Society Backs Bill Extending Preventive Care Services for Medicare

MAY 24, 2006 -- The American Cancer Society has endorsed legislation (HR 5437) sponsored by Rep. Clay E. Shaw Jr., R-Fla., that would extend preventive care services for Medicare beneficiaries and eliminate coinsurance for certain cancer screenings.

The bill, introduced May 19, would extend the period beneficiaries can attend a "Welcome to Medicare" physical examination from six months to one year. Coverage for initial physical examinations was added to Medicare in January 2005 as part of the Medicare overhaul law (PL 108-173). The visits currently are offered as a "use it or lose it" benefit for the first six months after enrollment.

"This physical represents a real turning point for Medicare, and we are confident that with more time available, seniors eligible for it would take advantage of this great benefit," said Daniel E. Smith, the American Cancer Society's national vice president of government funding.

The bill also would eliminate coinsurance for mammography and colorectal cancer screening tests. According to a release from the American Cancer Society, Medicare currently provides coverage for various cancer screenings but beneficiaries often pay 20 percent in coinsurance.

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