Medical and Patient Groups Call for Medicare
Coverage of CT Lung Cancer Screening
Lung cancer kills more people each year than breast,
colon and prostate cancers combined
March 13, 2014 - Last December, the United States
Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)
recommended screening of adults
aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and
currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Today a large
number of medical and patient groups called on the Centers for Medicare
& Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide Medicare coverage of low-dose
computed tomography (LDCT) screening for patients defined in the USPSTF
recommendations and others found to be at high-risk of lung cancer.
The request was from the Lung Cancer Alliance, The
Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American College of Radiology (ACR) and 38
other medical organizations and patient advocacy groups.
Lung cancer kills more people each year than
breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. For each of these other
three cancers, there are well established screening tests and programs,"
said Douglas E. Wood, M.D., immediate past president of The Society of
"We strongly urge CMS to implement broad national
coverage so that those at high risk, can be screened, providing the
opportunity to save thousands of people each year from this terrible
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that private
insurers cover all medical exams or procedures that receive a grade of
B or higher from the USPSTF without a co-pay. However, the ACA does
not specify that Medicare provide full national coverage for
The USPSTFs recommendation that made lung cancer
screening an essential health benefit specifically included 65 to 80
year olds who are also part of the Medicare population, said Lung
Cancer Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer, Laurie Fenton
Ambrose. If Medicare does not extend full coverage for lung cancer
screening to this population, the net effect will be a two tier system
that leaves Medicare beneficiaries at greater risk of dying from lung
cancer than those with private insurance. This cannot be right.
National Lung Cancer Screening Trial results
and those of other smaller international randomized controlled trials
show that CT lung cancer screening significantly reduces lung cancer
deaths. Screening for current and former smokers with LDCT is the only
method ever proven to reduce lung cancer mortality in this high-risk
population and it has also been shown to be cost effective.
CMS should act on the USPSTF recommendation to
provide national coverage for high-risk Medicare beneficiaries and
support quality screening programs across the country. This would, for
the first time, enable healers and patients to strike a major blow
against the nations leading cancer killer, said Paul Ellenbogen, M.D.,
FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors.
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