Medicare urged to update lung cancer screening coverage

Medicare urged to update lung cancer screening coverage

By staff writers

March 18, 2021 — Medicare coverage for CT lung cancer screening should be updated to reflect new eligibility thresholds issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and remove barriers that keep at-risk populations from accessing these exams, according to a coalition of physician and patient organizations.

In a letter to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the American College of Radiology, the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons asked for a revision of its national coverage determination (NCD) on CT lung cancer screening to include the expanded patient eligibility covered by the USPSTF guidance.

Among actions the group urged CMS to take are revising and lowering screening eligibility age to 50 years and smoking history criteria to 20 pack years and revise the “Counseling and Shared Decision Making” NCD criteria to ensure the current language and requirements do not act as barriers to screening uptake.

The USPSTF released an updated, final recommendation for CT lung cancer screening on March 9 that lowered the starting age from 55 to 50 and adjusted smoking history from 30 pack years to 20 pack years.