Sage Advice Newsletter - Spring 2021

Sage - Minnesotas Cancer Screening Program

Sage Screening Programs e-Update

Spring 2021

Hello Spring with Flowers


Lady holding megaphone

Program Eligibility Temporarily Extended

Sage Programs is announcing a temporary change in the age eligibility criteria for the breast and cervical cancer screening program.

From 4/1/2021 to 6/30/2021, Sage will provide payment for the following services and age groups:

  • Cervical cancer screening for women ages 21 to 64
  • Breast cancer screening services for women ages 40 and older

These changes in eligibility extend the cervical cancer screening age to women 21 years to 39 years and breast cancer screening to women age 65+. Women under age 40 may still be screened for breast cancer if they have a family history or breast symptoms.

There are no changes in Sage paperwork and billing requirements for these newly eligible women. Questions about eligibility and Sage paperwork can be directed to your Sage Regional Coordinator.

The Sage Program is continually assessing its enrollment and screening rates. If eligibility for the expanded age groups can continue past June 30, 2021, Sage will send another notice prior to that date. We are glad to be able to reach these women and are working on a statewide campaign to encourage all women to return to breast and cervical cancer screening.

Sage Enrollment Forms

In March 2020, we issued a request for providers to start faxing completed patient forms in response to teleworking as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While a great help, faxing has its limitations including, hard to read forms due to faxing colored paper and incomplete forms due to faxing only one side of two-sided forms.  To ensure patient data is successfully received, we ask that providers do the following:

  • Print patient forms only on white paper. Forms can be downloaded and printed from the Sage website:
  • Make sure the patient’s name or Encounter number is on all faxed pages.
  • Don’t mix form types when faxing in bulk.  Group the same form type in one fax e.g., all Enrollment/Visit forms in one fax and all Imaging Summary or Pap/HPV reports in another.
  • If faxing large numbers of patient forms at one time is a burden, Sage will accept mailed patient forms.  (If you are printing the Sage Enrollment form on 8.5 x 11” paper, make sure all the pages are stapled together before mailing, ideally with the patient’s name on each page.)

Sage’s mailing address:

Sage Program

PO Box 64882

St. Paul, MN  55164-0882

Sage continues to work on ways to capture the patient data electronically.  Stay tuned to the e-updates for news on our progress.

Questions? Contact Sage Billing at 615-201-5630 or

2021 Sage Reimbursement Rates

The 2021 Sage and SagePlus reimbursement rates have been posted to the website. Reimbursement rates are based on Medicare reimbursement and are subject to adjustment as Medicare adjusts rates. If you'd like more information, please contact the Sage Program Billing Line at 651-201-5630.

Sage Reimbursement Rates 2021 (PDF)

SagePlus Reimbursement Rates 2021 (PDF)

Registration is now open for the Minnesota Public Health Association 2021 Conference: “Bold and Humble - Engaging in Anti-Racist Public Health"

The conference will be held in virtual format from April 29 - 30

Health professionals and community members who want to connect with peers, pick up new ideas and gain skills to bring back to their workplace or community are encouraged to attend.

Registration Link - Register Today!


woman getting COVID-19 vaccine

Be Aware: COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effect May Impact Mammograms

The COVID-19 vaccine can lead to false-positive mammograms. The vaccine can cause enlarged lymph nodes under the arm into which the vaccine dose was injected, which then can appear as alarming spots on mammograms that can be difficult to distinguish from breast cancer. Enlarged nodes and swelling from the vaccine are harmless and considered a normal response. Nodes should return to normal size and swelling should resolve within four to six weeks following the second vaccine dose.  

The Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommends women schedule mammograms before the COVID-19 vaccination, or if this is not possible, consider scheduling four to six weeks after the second vaccine dose.  

Sage continues to schedule routine breast and cervical cancer screenings, and encourages women to receive their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are able. Sage is advising women to talk with their doctors about the timing of their mammograms. More specifically:  

  • Women who have scheduled or have already received the COVID-19 vaccine should work with their providers to schedule or reschedule mammograms following SBI or provider guidelines.  
  • Women who have not yet scheduled or had the vaccine should work with their providers to schedule mammograms when due.  
  • Women who have signs or symptoms of breast cancer including breast pain, lump, or other changes should schedule a mammogram immediately, regardless of the date of the second COVID-19 vaccine dose. 

Contact your Regional Coordinator or the Sage Call Center at 1-888-643-2584 with questions.

Video Tutorials

New Sage Training Modules Now Available Online

Undoubtedly your time is more limited these days and so with busier schedules, and all the Covid-related challenges to meeting in person, the Sage Program is excited to offer a new virtual training opportunity for clinics working with the Sage Program. Sage is now offering a series of 5 trainings including:

  • Background on the Sage Program
  • Understanding Sage patient eligibility
  • Completing Sage paperwork
  • Following up on Abnormal Test Results
  • Getting paid for providing services

The videos range from 5 to 8 minute and can be viewed at your convenience and are readily available for a brief Sage Screening Program refresher, or to train your staff new to working with the Sage Program.

Please take a look at the modules, and let us know how the videos help you offer the Sage Program services in your clinic!

Sage Program Training Modules:

 Cancer Summit 2021 Summary

Cancer Summit 2021 Speakers


Over 100 attendees committed to reducing barriers to excellent cancer care at the Minnesota Cancer Alliance Summit. The 2021 conference focused on current research, best practices, and conversations about what is working in each of the following areas:

  1. Access to Cancer Care
  2. Removing Barriers
  3. Rural Health
  4. COVID & Cancer

We want to offer a special shout-out to our 2021 Annual Cancer Summit speakers and leaders. We appreciated their honesty and passion for equality in cancer care and their willingness to collaborate on such an important topic.

All of the presentations will be available in mid- April on the MCA website-

The work the MCA is doing around health equity mirrors national trends.

Our friends and MCA summit keynote speakers, Shonta Chambers, MSW, EVP Health Equity Initiatives and Community Engagement, Patient Advocate Foundation, and Robert Winn, MD, Director, VCU Massey Cancer Center, co-chaired a national workgroup on Elevating Cancer Equity.

Workgroup recommendations include a new to help providers, payers, and accreditation entities advance equitable care delivery. The report card contains 17 measurable practice changes in the following categories:

  • Community Engagement
  • Accessibility of Care and Social Determinants of Health
  • Addressing Bias in Care Delivery
  • Quality and Comprehensiveness of Care

Diverse women silohette

Sage Worksite Screening Project Pilot Coming Soon

Soon worksites can partner with Sage to identify ways to encourage breast cancer screening among employees. Sage will be piloting a program to encourage use of preventative care by employees at worksites. Free breast and cervical cancer screening is included in most insurance coverage, but not everyone who is insured uses their coverage. Further, with part-time or contractor status, employees may not have access to health insurance. Even when employees are insured, worksite policies can influence whether employees use their benefits. However, preventative care improves employee health and well-being, while reducing long term health and financial costs for employees and employers. It benefits everyone to get screened and detect cancer early! More details to follow in the next Sage newsletter. For more information on the developing pilot, please contact Chris Campbell:

Process Success

Systems Change Promotes Screening

Health System Change is a proven approach to increasing screening rates in breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer using evidence-based strategies and best practices (e.g. patient reminders). The Sage/Scopes programs work with partnering clinics to first help them assess their current approach to screening. Once a baseline is established, clinics select or enhance specific interventions that enrich and institutionalize policies, processes, and/or environmental supports that lead to increased cancer screening. Screening saves lives. If you would like to learn more about our systems change approach, please contact Donna McDuffie at 

Sage Staff "Go Blue" for Colorectal Cancer Awarness

March was colorectal cancer (CRC) screening  awareness month. As a cancer screening program, Sage staff wore blue in solidarity. Many of our partners participated in various activities to increase awareness around CRC screening and risk-reduction. Most notably, the Colon Cancer Coalition partnered with business owners and local leaders on the #BlueForCRC campaign, an initiative where both businesses and monuments are lit up in blue lights to increase CRC awareness. This year, a record 21 states participated with 75+ sites in Minnesota!

Full article:

Colorectal Cancer Facts:

  • CRC is second leading cause of cancer death in US for both men and women.
  • Early stage colorectal cancer does not usually cause symptoms, which is why screening is so important.
  • Screening tests can find precancerous polyps so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screenings can also find cancer early, when the treatment is most effective.
MDH Staff Wear Blue for Colorectal Cancer Awaareness Month