New Improvements for Women's Health
September 24, 1999
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."