Advocacy groups, healthcare providers urge CMS to change course on LDCT reimbursement cuts

More than 80 organizations, including the American College of Radiology (ACR) and numerous healthcare systems, are asking CMS not to follow through with low-dose computer tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening reimbursement cuts included in the 2017 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule. 

The cuts in question could reduce reimbursement for LDCT shared decision making sessions by 64 percent and LDCT scans by 44 percent.

LDCT is a “critical way to combat lung cancer deaths in America,” the organizations wrote in a letter to CMS.

“Without access to LDCT scans, most lung cancers are not diagnosed until it is too late,” Carolyn Aldigé, president and founder of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, said in a prepared statement. “Lung cancer screening provides critical early detection that saves lives—but the best test in the world won’t be effective if patients can’t gain access to it in their communities.”

“CT lung cancer screening is a game changer in the battle against lung cancer,” James A. Brink, MD, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, said in the same statement. “Slashing reimbursement by up to two-thirds before screening can be implemented in most American communities may be a death knell for many existing and planned screening programs nationwide. The resulting lack of access may contribute to unnecessary lung cancer deaths. We strongly urge CMS to reconsider these cuts.”

Douglas E. Wood, MD, past president of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, explained in the statement that some patient groups could be impacted more by these potential cuts than others.

“Lung cancer disproportionately affects the elderly, poor, and minorities,” Wood said. “For CMS to undercut lung cancer screening and restrict access to these exams with massive cuts accentuates disparities in health care delivery and undermines our ability to save thousands of lives.”