Release Date: October 4, 2000
Rebecca Schwaab, ext. 7502
Bell, ext. 7106
Carl Graziano, ext. 7118
CAP Applauds Action to Expand Medicare Pap Test
Washington, D.C.- On Tuesday, October 3, 2000, the House Ways and
Means Health Subcommittee adopted key language from a bill
originally introduced by Reps. E. Clay Shaw, Jr., R-Fla. and
co-sponsored by Rep. Karen Thurman, D-Fla., that would expand annual
Pap test and pelvic examination coverage to all Medicare women.
"We are excited about the adoption of this important language by
the Health Subcommittee. We especially want to thank Reps. Bill
Thomas, R-Cal, Chair of the Health Subcommittee, Clay Shaw and Karen
Thurman for their leadership." said CAP President Paul Bachner, MD,
FCAP. "This is the first step to making annual Pap tests and pelvic
examinations a reality for all women."
The College of American Pathologists (CAP) played a key role in
the introduction of the original bill and worked closely with Rep.
Shaw to construct the language of the "Providing Annual Pap Smears
to Save Women's Lives Act of 2000." The CAP has long championed
improved access to Pap tests for all women to help increase early
detection and prevention of cervical cancer and thus, dramatically
increase survival rates. Last year, the College was instrumental in
the successful passage of legislation that improved Medicare payment
for the test and ensured its availability in local communities.
Medicare currently provides annual coverage, but only for women
who meet one of several "high risk" criteria or who are of
childbearing age and have had an abnormal Pap test in the past 36
months. For women who do not meet the criteria, Medicare only covers
a Pap test once every three years. Shaw's bill expands annual Pap
test and pelvic examination coverage to all women in Medicare,
regardless of their age or cancer risk. The majority of private
insurers cover annual Pap tests for all women. "We urge Congress to
follow suit and take this important opportunity to help reduce the
rate of cervical cancer beyond that already achieved through
widespread use of the Pap test over the past half century," said Dr.
"Women on Medicare deserve to have the same chance for early
detection of reproductive cancer as younger women," Rep. Shaw said.
"With more than 40 percent of all cervical cancer deaths occurring
in women older than 65, it only makes sense to provide annual
The College of American Pathologists advocates that, in general,
all women who are or have been sexually active, or have reached 18
years of age, should have an annual Pap test and pelvic examination.
The CAP has spearheaded a public education campaign to encourage
and motivate women to get Pap tests annually and to promote the
benefits of this lifesaving screening test in the fight against
cancer. To encourage women to get this lifesaving test, the College
has established http://www.papsmear.org/, a
website through which women can register to receive annual e-mail
reminders to schedule their Pap tests.
No cancer screening test in medical history has proved as
effective for early detection of cancer as the Pap test. Since its
introduction shortly after World War II, death rates from cervical
cancer have decreased 70 percent in the United States. But despite
the Pap test's unparalleled record of success, thousands of American
women still fail to have an annual Pap examination. Studies show
that of those women who die of cervical cancer, 80 percent had not
had a Pap test in the five years preceding their deaths.
The CAP is a medical society serving nearly 16,000 physician
members and the laboratory community throughout the world. It is the
world's largest association composed exclusively of pathologists and
is widely considered the leader in laboratory quality assurance. The
CAP is an advocate for high quality and cost-effective patient care.
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