Medical organizations call for Medicare coverage of CT lung cancer screening

Forty-one of the nation’s largest medical organizations and patient advocacy groups, including the American College of Radiology (ACR), issued a joint letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) National Coverage and Analysis Group calling for lung cancer screening coverage in line with recent recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

“Echoing our January 10th, 2014, letter to Administrator [Marilyn] Tavenner, our Joint Societies strongly support national coverage for lung cancer screening of high risk individuals with low dose computed tomography in light of the robust scientific evidence outlined in the [USPSTF’s] final recommendation (Grade B),” read the letter.

Last year, the USPSTF recommended screening of adults aged 55 to 80 years with a 30 pack-year smoking history who are current smokers or quit within the past 15 years. Randomized controlled trials—most notably the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial—have shown that CT lung cancer screening significantly reduces lung cancer deaths.

While the Affordable Care Act mandates that private payers must cover all medical exams or procedures that receive at least a grade of “B” from the USPSTF without a co-pay, the healthcare reform law did not specify that Medicare also provide full national coverage for beneficiaries.

In addition to the ACR, other organizations included in the joint response include the Lung Cancer Alliance, American Society for Radiation Oncology, The Academy of Radiology Research, American Roentgen Ray Society and The American Board of Radiology Foundation. The full letter can be read here.