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    September 24, 1999
    (Washington, D.C.)

    Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) today released the following statement regarding introduction of the Women's Health Innovation Improvement Act.

    "Pap smears are one of the most beneficial screening tests to prevent cervical cancer among women. Yet the current Medicare reimbursement rate of $7.15 is lower than what the government reimbursed laboratories for this test a decade ago," Congresswoman Dunn said.

    Dunn continued, "The Women's Health Innovation Improvement Act sets a new floor of $13 for Medicare reimbursement of the Pap smear test. The reimbursement rate for the Pap test has not been updated in decades. There is broad-based, bipartisan support in Congress for raising the reimbursement rate for the conventional pap smear. We must approve this reimbursement increase to ensure that women receive affordable, quality health care."

    Last year's Omnibus Appropriations Act provided specific direction for HCFA on this issue: "The agency is urged to act as soon as possible to increase the Medicare payment of the screening Pap smear." The bill will also allow for a higher reimbursement rate for automated screening of Pap smear tests. Approved by the FDA last year, automated screening has proven to significantly increase the early detection of cervical cancer and its precursor conditions. It also reduces the scare of what's known as a "false positive." Many women have experienced being told that they have an abnormal Pap test only to be retested and find that everything is fine.

    Dr. Alan C. Nelson, Chairman of the Board of NeoPath Inc. in Redmond, Washington added, "Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn again proves by her action today that she is a leader on women's health issues in Congress. She is the first to recognize the importance of introducing automation into a test that is crucial to the detection and prevention of cervical cancer. The Pap test is one of the most singularly important tests that women receive regularly - yet it is the last laboratory test to be automated. Increasing the Medicare reimbursement rate will provide incentives for providers to employ automated screening, and this will save lives."


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