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Larson Introduces Bill to Make Osteoporosis Screening More Accessible

May 26, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) introduced the Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2021 (H.R. 3517) with Reps. Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Michael Burgess M.D. (TX-26), and Jackie Walorski (IN-02) to improve  access to osteoporosis screening. Fractures caused by osteoporosis are among the most significant challenges threatening the independence and quality of life for older Americans.  \

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. DXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) is the gold standard for diagnosing and treating osteoporosis. Medicare began DXA reimbursement cuts in 2007, resulting in fewer patients being screened and treated, fewer physicians providing DXA tests, and more patients suffering debilitating and unnecessary fractures. That change wiped out a decade of prevention efforts and needs to be fixed. 

“Osteoporotic fractures make up more than 40 percent of all hospitalizations of older women. These fractures could be prevented if DXA screening was made more accessible to patients. I’m proud to introduce the Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2021 to improve access to these vital screenings for Medicare beneficiaries,” said Rep. John B. Larson.  

“Because osteoporosis often causes no symptoms until a fracture occurs, screening for those who might be at risk of a life changing injury is absolutely critical,” said Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA). “Nearly half of all women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime. These fractures threaten an individual’s health and independence. By improving access to early diagnosis of osteoporosis, this legislation will help reduce fracture rates and health care costs. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation.”

“If left untreated, osteoporosis is a disease that can lead to many complications and early death – primarily in women,” Rep. Lori Trahan said. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill that will increase access to critical preventative testing to identify osteoporosis, promote women’s health, and save lives.” 

“This bill restores access to a vital preventative service that will dramatically reduce fracture rates and generate substantial savings. Serving as a physician and a Member of Congress, I understand just how big of a public health threat osteoporosis can be since patients often do not show symptoms until they have a fracture. It is critical we act to ensure Medicare providers stay ahead of this debilitating disease,” said Rep. Michael Burgess M.D.

“Low bone mass and osteoporosis are responsible for millions of fractures each year among seniors, especially women,” Rep. Jackie Walorski said. “Early diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis have been proven to reduce fracture rates, resulting in Medicare savings and greater independence for older Americans. Our commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help Medicare beneficiaries get ahead of their bone health by updating reimbursements for DXA scans that can help identify and treat osteoporosis in at-risk seniors.”