Gallagher, Khan, Warren call for PA to update insurance laws around colorectal cancer screenings

HARRISBURG, March 5 – Today, state Reps. Pat Galagher, Tarik Khan, both D-Phila., and Perry Warren, D-Bucks, hosted a news conference at the state Capitol announcing that they plan to introduce legislation that would update state insurance laws to expand coverage for colorectal cancer screenings.

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths even though it is a very treatable form of cancer when caught early. When detected in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate can be as high as 90%.

The legislators said their legislation would update Pennsylvania’s Insurance Company Law to reduce the age when colorectal cancer screenings are covered to 45 from 50. This legislation also prevents prior authorizations and advance notice for screening colonoscopies for individuals 45 and above.

Current law requires health insurance coverage for routine colorectal cancer screenings starting at age 50 based on American Cancer Society standards published in 2008. 

Multiple other states have updated their law to reflect more recent American Cancer Society guidelines from 2018. The updated recommendations call for people to begin screening at age 45 rather than 50.

Gallagher, who is a colorectal cancer survivor, said the legislation could result in more early detections and ultimately save lives.

“As a survivor of colorectal cancer, I know firsthand the impact that early detection and proper care can have on an individual's journey through the labyrinth of cancer,” Gallagher said. “This legislation is not just about updating insurance coverage; it's about saving lives and ensuring that no one has to face the challenges of colorectal cancer alone and that every Pennsylvanian, regardless of their circumstances, can access the screenings that could make all the difference.”

Khan, who serves as a nurse practitioner, said he encourages all his patients to get screenings.

“As a nurse practitioner, I encourage all my patients who qualify to get colon cancer screenings,” he said. “In fact, I even filmed myself getting a colonoscopy to increase awareness of this life-saving procedure. Tactics by insurance companies like prior authorizations and ‘advanced notice’ add needless barriers for patients. Our bill addresses these unnecessary obstacles for patients to access these important screenings.”

Warren said the legislation could help patients and their families.

“Early detection can save the patient and family years of emotional headache and physical pain,” he said.

The legislators were joined by Dr. Benjamin Abella, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; Anna Payne, a Stage Four colon cancer patient and township supervisor of Middletown Township in Bucks County; and Kim Hall-Jackson, a survivor of colorectal cancer and an advocate.

The news conference can be viewed in its entirety at Press Conference: Expanding Insurance Coverage for Colonoscopies (