Newswise — Reston, Va. (June 11, 2014) – The American College of Radiology (ACR) applauds and supports today’s vote by the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates to “recommend that coverage of screening low-dose CT (LDCT) scans for patients at high risk for lung cancer by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance be a required covered benefit.”
“This AMA vote is a recognition that the nation’s medical providers know how vital access to these exams is for many of their patients,” said Bibb Allen, MD, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors. “For the first time, we can save thousands of people each year from the nation’s leading cancer killer. It’s time for Medicare to cover these lifesaving exams, provide access for seniors, and help the medical community save lives.”
Today’s action adds to the growing number of stakeholders who believe LDCT should be covered by Medicare. Nearly half of the U.S. Senate and more than one-third of the U.S. House of Representatives recently signed letters to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging Medicare coverage of LDCT screening for patients at high risk for lung cancer. The ACR, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), released a statement supporting the lawmakers and urging others on Capitol Hill to join them in seeking full Medicare coverage of these lifesaving exams.
In December 2013, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended CT lung cancer screening for high-risk patients. Under the Affordable Care Act, private insurers are required to begin covering this service starting Jan. 1, 2015. However, Medicare is not required to follow USPSTF recommendations. CMS will make its final coverage decision in February 2015.
Meanwhile, significant lung cancer screening infrastructure continues to grow. The College created the ACR Lung Cancer Screening Center program, to help certify that these lifesaving exams are provided in a safe, effective manner. The ACR also launched the first edition of Lung-RADS™, a quality assurance tool designed to standardize lung cancer screening CT reporting and management recommendations, reduce confusion in lung cancer screening CT interpretations and facilitate outcome monitoring.
“These exams have been proven lifesaving. The test is at least as cost-effective as other major cancer screening programs and even automobile seatbelts and airbags. Full Medicare coverage would provide necessary access to help providers save countless lives from this terrible disease. It is time for Medicare to act,” said Allen.
To arrange an interview with an ACR spokesperson, contact Shawn Farley at 703-648-8936 or PR@acr.org.