Banking Commerce and Insurance

Colorectal cancer screening bill advanced

Lawmakers gave first-round approval Feb. 6 to a measure that would change provisions related to insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screening.

Sen. Carol Blood
Sen. Carol Blood

LB829, sponsored by Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue, would add the concurrent removal of polyps, biopsy or both to coverage requirements for colorectal cancer screening by self-funded employee benefit insurance plans in Nebraska. Such plans are required under the federal Affordable Care Act to cover screening exams and laboratory tests with no out-of-pocket costs for individuals who are at least 45 years old.

Blood said the problem is that if a polyp is found and removed during a screening colonoscopy, the procedure instead may be deemed as diagnostic, which could lead to hundreds of dollars in unexpected additional charges.

“This expense creates a barrier to the lifesaving screening for those who are most at risk for colorectal cancer,” she said. “This loophole could be the difference between life and death.”

A Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee amendment would move the bill’s operative date to Jan. 1, 2025, and make a number of technical changes to narrow and clarify terms.

Dunbar Sen. Julie Slama, chairperson of the committee, said she voted against advancing LB829 to the floor for debate by the full Legislature but only because she is opposed to mandates in general.

North Platte Sen. Mike Jacobson supported the bill and the committee amendment, saying he doesn’t see the proposal as a mandate. A second procedure to remove a polyp found during a screening colonoscopy would be a “complete waste of time, resources and facilities,” he said.

“This is one of those really commonsense bills that, frankly, we should all get behind and support,” Jacobson said.

Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha spoke in opposition to LB829, expressing concern that it would lead to increased costs for insurance providers that could be passed on to consumers.

“Will we now see everyone bearing the brunt of increased cost shares for their screenings?” Kauth said.

Blood said that fear is unfounded and that the bill simply would close a loophole that would save insurance providers money in the long term by encouraging Nebraskans to screen for colorectal cancer.

“If this was a mandate, the insurance companies would line up in opposition and that did not happen in this case,” she said.

Following the 37-0 adoption of the committee amendment, senators voted 36-6 to advance LB829 to select file.

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