Radiology group asks lung cancer screening centers for help persuading insurers to update exam coverage

The American College of Radiology is asking lung cancer screening centers to help push private insurers to update their imaging coverage policies.

On Friday, the ACR published a form letter for freestanding care centers to send to state and local private insurers. The two-page document urges payers to revise their lung cancer screening policies to match the United States Preventive Services Task Force’s March update, which qualified millions more for such exams.

Specifically, the ACR wants reimbursement policies to mirror the USPSTF grade B recommendations that lower the annual screening low-dose CT age to start at 50 and smoking pack-year eligibility from 30 pack-years to 20.

Under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, payers are afforded up to one year from the start of the next plan year to update their coverage determinations after the USPSTF makes changes. But the college says quick action will spare many unnecessary deaths.

Given the magnitude of lung cancer deaths across the United States population, and that lung cancer has the highest cancer death rate, this underscores the urgency to move expeditiously with a responsible and equitable plan for expanded coverage of screening for the at-risk populations,” the ACR explained in its form letter.

The nation’s foremost radiology advocate has been hitting the pavement hard to lobby for these changes. Following the USPSTF’s March 9 update, the ACR quickly called on the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to update its own coverage policy.

Since then, the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons co-signed a letter to the nation’s top five private insurers urging for coverage policy updates.

You can download the ACR’s form letter here.

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