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Am J Public Health. 2014 Jun;104(6):982-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.301877. Epub 2014 Apr 17.

Navigating the murky waters of colorectal cancer screening and health reform.

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Beverly B. Green is with the Group Health Research Institute and the Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, WA. Gloria D. Coronado is with the Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, OR. Jennifer E. Devoe is with the Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, and the OCHIN Practice-Based Research Network, Portland. James Allison is clinical professor of medicine emeritus, Division of Gastroenterology, University of California, San Francisco and emeritus researcher, Kaiser Division of Research, San Francisco.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that both Medicaid and insurance plans cover life-saving preventive services recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, including colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and choice between colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and fecal occult blood testing (FOBT). People who choose FOBT or sigmoidoscopy as their initial test could face high, unexpected, out-of-pocket costs because the mandate does not cover needed follow-up colonoscopies after positive tests. Some people will have no coverage for any CRC screening because of lack of state participation in the ACA or because they do not qualify (e.g., immigrant workers). Existing disparities in CRC screening and mortality will worsen if policies are not corrected to fully cover both initial and follow-up testing.

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