Richard H. Hughes, IV, Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in American Journal of Managed Care, in “Webinar Highlights Recommendations to Improve Disparities in CRC Screening,” by Julia Bonavitacola.

Following is an excerpt:

A new report published by the Network for Excellence in Health Innovations (NEHI) holds clues on how to improve the disparities in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in racially and ethnically diverse populations, according to speakers during a webinar held on October 17, 2023. The report, which was primarily written by Clare B. Cruse, MPH, senior director at NEHI, drove the discussion on how disparities in screening can continue to close in an area that is still known for inequality in preventive care. …

The first panel featured a short discussion on data aggregation and how collecting data on the community can help to close disparities in CRC screening. This includes collecting information on who makes up each community and how the ethnic and racial backgrounds of the community can play into decisions on which areas to target in closing those disparity gaps. …

A major barrier to boosting CRC screening rates is the existential threat of the outcome of the Braidwood v Becerra case. As Richard Hughes IV, JD, MPH, of the law firm Epstein Becker Green, explained, the Affordable Care Act required that all commercial insurance plans cover preventive interventions, such as CRC screening, and also required those same preventive measures be covered through Medicaid expansion. In short, the plaintiffs in the Braidwood v Becerra case argued that they do not need to cover some preventive health measures due to their religious beliefs, and the district judge’s decision overturned the required coverage of preventive screenings recommended by the USPSTF. Insurers creating new contracts can roll back coverage of preventive screenings to what it was in March 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was first enacted.

“So the recommendation that was in effect back in 2010 … there was a 2008 recommendation in effect, and it was basically a Grade A recommendation for individuals aged 50 to 75. What we are missing is that very important 45- to 49-year-old segment that was added in 2021,” said Hughes. “So we would see basically for that age group the requirement to cover would be rolled back.”

Hughes said that if the Biden administration wants this area of the Affordable Care Act to continue, it could potentially remove the political insulation of the USPSTF so that they would have some accountability. “I think there’s an opportunity all around to think about ways to improve the work of the [USPSTF]. And in the process make sure that we’re saving coverage and access throughout the framework,” he said.

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