Lung Cancer Alliance wraps low-dose CT lung screening outreach effort

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The Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) has completed its nationwide outreach effort aimed at spurring state health exchanges to include low-dose CT screening in benchmark health plans for those at risk for lung cancer.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states may either establish their own health insurance exchange or participate in the federal health exchange. States must select a benchmark plan to establish the minimum benefits that any plan offered on the exchange must cover, and LCA argues that recent research on low-dose CT lung cancer screening has shown it warrants inclusion to benchmark plans.

In a press release, Laurie Fenton-Ambrose, president and CEO of LCA, said despite the demonstrated mortality benefit of low-dose CT screening for those at high-risk for lung cancer, the decision to include it as an essential health benefit is being bureaucratically hampered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Just because the federal government cannot move swiftly enough is no reason to deny a benefit that could literally save tens of thousands of lives a year," she said.

LCA points to 2010’s National Lung Screening Trial from the National Cancer Institute as proof of the potential of low-dose CT screening. It showed a 20 percent mortality benefit for certain former and current smokers, ages 55-74, who underwent low-dose CT lung cancer screening compared with x-ray. LCA also cited findings from the actuarial firm Milliman that demonstrated screening those at risk to be cost effective for payers.

Fenton-Ambrose said LCA is committed to ensuring access to screening for those that could benefit, and said the organization will engage with health leaders in every state if needed.