Bipartisan group of senators urge coverage of CT lung cancer screening

A group of 44 senators, led by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), have signed a letter asking Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to extend coverage of low-dose CT screening to Medicare beneficiaries at high risk of lung cancer.

“It is our hope that fully utilizing this screening tool as appropriate based on patient risk factors will help reduce the more than 156,000 deaths due to lung cancer in the United States each year,” read the letter.

The senators noted the median age of lung cancer diagnosis is 70, underscoring the importance of coverage for seniors on Medicare.

Currently, low-dose CT screening is becoming available through private insurance coverage, though CMS is still debating whether to provide coverage to Medicare beneficiaries. In April, a panel convened by the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee indicated it had low confidence that the evidence supported low-dose CT screening in a Medicare-aged population. A draft decision will be made later this year.