Sage Newsletter Winter 2020/21

Sage - Minnesotas Cancer Screening Program

Sage Advise Newsletter 

Winter 2020/21

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month



Forms & Billing

The following are some pointers that will help Sage to better receive your data:

•   Make sure all forms are accurately and fully completed prior to sending them to Sage.  Incomplete data may lead to forms being returned, and delayed or denied claims.

•   Fax patient forms and claims in small groupings.  It is difficult to sort through tens of pages of one fax that includes information for multiple patients. 

•   To avoid denied claims for insured patients, bill a patient’s primary insurance first.  Send the EOB to Sage along with claims for any remaining charges.

Remittance & Change Healthcare Clearinghouse

Sage Providers that use the Change Healthcare clearinghouse, and who utilized more than one Trading Partner ID# in their 837 claim file (e.g. entities with clinics and hospitals), may have difficulty reconciling payments with Sage’s 835 remittance file.  The Sage system is currently set to provide payment based upon a provider’s Tax ID # and will only supply one Trading Partner# back in the 835 remit.  Due to staff resources being reassigned for COVID-19 work, Sage is unable to fix this problem at this time.  The problem could be addressed if Change Healthcare would change how it consumes Sage’s 835 information.  If they would base the relay on the Tax ID#, rather than the Trading Partner ID#, the 835 information would transfer correctly. Our clearinghouse has requested that we ask our partners to make a request with the Change Healthcare helpdesk to change their 835 consumption to use the Tax ID#, rather than the Trading Partner ID#.  If you have question about this, please contact the Sage Financial Manager at: 

CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) – Minnesota Scopes

In July 2020, the CDC awarded the Minnesota Department of Health a new 5-year grant that focuses on “systems change” to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in the state. The grant assists individual clinics to improve systems to engage patients and provide CRC screening services. At this time, the Scopes Program no longer provides coverage of colorectal cancer screening (e.g. colonoscopies or FITs) for individuals. Clinics should refer CRC screening patients to the charitable care resources normally used for their uninsured and underinsured patients. We continue to work with our partners to identify available no or low-cost resources for screening services and invite you to join us in that effort. We will keep you informed on our progress. For more information contact Donna McDuffie at or Manjusha Pillai at

Connecting with Sage Regional Coordinators

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe, most Sage Screening Program staff have been reassigned at least 50% to the MDH COVID-19 response. Both the Sage Regional Coordinators (RCs), Liz Wilson-Lopp and Elizabeth Lando-King, are spending considerable time on these assignments. That said, both Liz and Elizabeth are available and eager to respond to your questions!

With remote work, the best way to reach your Regional Cordinator is to send an email: Liz:; Elizabeth: Elizabeth or Liz will respond within one day. If your question is urgent, please call 651-201-5600 and ask to be re-directed right away.

Thanks for your patience during this challenging time!


Cervical Cancer Awareness Month


Hope and Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. While cervical cancer used to be a leading cause of death for women, advances in screening (including regular Pap smears) have greatly reduced cervical cancer cases and deaths. Despite the progress that has been made, in 2020, there were an estimated 140 Minnesota women diagnosed with an invasive cervical cancer. There is more work to be done! Current screening recommendations are for women ages 21 to 65 to have a Pap smear every three years or HPV tests every five years (ages 30 to 65). Sage can cover cervical cancer screening and diagnosis for women ages 40 to 64. 

Sage Screening Programs and our partners are promoting cervical cancer screening in a variety of ways. One way Sage is promoting Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is through radio. This includes a radio interview on KMOJ's "Know Your Options". The radio broadcast is tailored towards diverse and urban communities with a health equity focus. Signs and symptoms of breast and cervical cancer, and also screening and treatment options are discussed. Additionally, Sage is working with some Sage Screening clinics on a cervical  mailing campaign to help motivate women who are due for cervical screening to take action.

Beyond Sage's efforts to promote Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, there are exciting initiatives being led by other cancer champions. One partnering organization, the American Indian Cancer Foundation  (AICAF), is continuing Turquoise Tuesday, which is a national cervical cancer awareness campaign geared towards Native women. There are a variety of activities involved in Turquoise Tuesday, one in which they encourage women to make a pledge to be screened. 

However your organization may be observing Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we thank you. Your cancer screening efforts make a strong impact in live of Minnesota women. 


2021 MCA Cancer Summit: Equity in Cancer Care 

Diverse women silohette


We all know that health disparities exist in Minnesota. Take action today and be part of the solution!

YOU can join Minnesota policymakers, healthcare staff, nonprofit organizations, private citizens, and many other stakeholders for the Minnesota Cancer Alliance’s 2021 Conference: Reducing Barriers to Excellent Cancer Care.

The 2021 Virtual Cancer Summit will be held on four consecutive Wednesdays: February 17,  24, and March 3, 10  from 1:00 PM-3:00 PM.

Each session will center on current research, best practices and conversation about what is working in each of the following areas: (1) Access to Cancer Care, (2) Removing Barriers, (3) Rural Health, and (4) COVID & Cancer.

The cost per session is $30 or all 4 sessions for $100, with continuing education credits available. With the purchase of any Cancer Summit session, you are eligible to receive a discounted rate to become a member of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance (MCA). Membership fees contribute to Strategic Action Grants that further the Minnesota Cancer Alliance’s work on the Cancer Plan.

The MCA launched Cancer Plan Minnesota 2025 at the 2017 Cancer Summit. With this framework for action and clear goal of reducing Minnesota's cancer burden, you and stakeholders throughout the state are poised to create necessary and relevant changes in cancer care. Take action: Join us at the 2021 MCA Virtual Cancer Summit and help reduce barriers to cancer care for every Minnesotan.


Champions Project - Making Strides in Breast Cancer Screening 

Champions Club Logo

Benita and GayLynn  (Breast Cancer Champions)

Champions Project Members

In an effort to identify communities where the Sage Screening Program has been underutilized, Sage and a University of Minnesota researcher, Professor David Haynes, collaborated to generate a map of Sage mammography use across Minnesota. The map was accurate to the neighborhood level, and identified Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods that underused Sage mammography. Sage reached out to existing and potential partners that would support breast cancer screening in these areas. Now, Sage and the University of Minnesota have partnered with the Breast Cancer Education Association (BCEA) and Sisters Standing Up to Breast Cancer to increase breast cancer awareness and education using lay educators in African American communities in the Twin Cities. This is the Champions Project.  

These four organizations agreed that reaching Black women for breast cancer screening is a priority. In Minnesota, Black women have an 8% higher mortality rate for breast cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women. Black women are more likely to delay breast cancer screening and breast cancer diagnosis at a later stage, which leads to greater breast cancer mortality rates. Recent research in Minnesota found that African American women delay screenings due to distrust in medical providers. A second Minnesota-based study found that immigrant African women had low screening rates due to language, cultural and structural barriers. These trends suggest interventions to overcome barriers to care experienced by African American and immigrant African women in order to increase breast cancer screening.

Currently, five Champions are active in the field, promoting breast cancer awareness and screening. Champions are able to provide education, information, help navigating some barriers, while providing emotional support for women interested in breast cancer screening.

We originally imagined Champions as working at mobile mammography events, but with the advent of COVID-19, the model has been reworked. COVID-19 has challenged us to find new ways to communicate about breast cancer. Some Champions are now active on social media, and have been creating posts and sharing information within their professional, personal, and community networks. Champions have attended food drives, handing out breast cancer information while families pick up food. Others have scoured local salons and grocery stores to find places to leave information or to hand out information to women in the store. Some have provided information or short presentations to fellow nursing school students, church prayer groups, or other activity groups. Some are approaching community stakeholders, to lay the foundation for outreach within organizations. Champions choose the events, times, and places they wish to work. They are educated on COVID-19 safety protocols. The Champions Project is moving forward despite the challenges of COVID-19

Champions are community leaders committed to being recognizable sources of breast cancer education and support. The current project is funded through December 2021. The Champions Project is looking for partnerships and opportunities to expand our reach. If you are interested in working with the Champions Project on breast health education and initiatives, please email

The Champions Project is on social media! Follow them to keep up with the latest Champions Project activities:

Facebook Group:  Breast Cancer Champions

Instagram: breastcancerchampions


Sage Staff Serve as Community Liaisons to Advance COVID-19 Outreach & Testing   

Dai Vu, Sandy Johnson, and Benita Robinson

Community Liaisons and COVID19 Outreach

When COVID-19 arrived in Minnesota, testing opportunities were limited. Only people with symptoms could get tested at clinics and hospitals, and everyone was asked for insurance. This left many Minnesotans without access to COVID-19 testing. In response, a partnership between Governor Walz’s Office, the Minnesota Department of Health, diagnostic testing companies, and community emerged. Community testing sites were set up all over the state, located at nonclinical locations and often in trusted community spaces such as churches or community centers. The community testing sites have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19. They provide safe and effective COVID-19 tests and circumvent barriers to testing such as identification or medical insurance status.

Two staff members from the Sage Screening Programs have helped to spearhead this important initiative. Dai Vu and Benita Robinson have strong backgrounds in outreach. They have track records for serving the community with advancing public health and reducing barriers to screening and care. We are proud that their experience and community relationships have helped Minnesota in the fight against COVID-19. 

*Note: Dai is now working full time on the COVID-19 response as the COVID-19 Community Coordinator Supervisor.


COVID-19 Causes Cancer Screening Decline 


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted breast and cervical cancer screening in MN, with far fewer women seeking cancer screening services than prior to the onset of COVID-19, and the related challenges to accessing healthcare.

During the first phase of the pandemic (until the lockdown ended around 5/18), Sage screening rates were only 25% of the previous year.  Post lock-down, that has improved to 35% of the previous year.

Interestingly, Sage's American Indian population has had the least interruption of services, with screening ‘only’ down by 50%. The Hispanic population suffered the largest decline, with their screening rate only 25% that of the previous year.

With the advent of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Sage Screening Program is allowing telehealth visits for breast screening visits. This should help with women reluctant to visit a clinic; and for health systems with limited capacity to screen Sage patients. As many people are losing health insurance as they lose employment, more women will  qualify for Sage. Consider assessing whether your patients can benefit from the Sage Program!



The best protection is early detection