CMS exploring expanded coverage of low-dose CT lung cancer screening

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is officially exploring expanded reimbursement for low-dose CT lung cancer screening, the federal agency announced Tuesday.

CMS has opened a National Coverage Analysis of this radiology service, after the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently recommended screening for the disease beginning at age 50, rather than 55. Physicians have urged the agency to update lung cancer screening payment parameters to match the task force’s nonbinding guidance, and CMS responded May 18 with its newly launched review process.

The healthcare administration is soliciting comments through June 17 and hopes to decide by November. According to the notice, the feds hope to complete the process before February 2022.

“CMS considers all public comments and is particularly interested in clinical studies and other scientific information relevant to the topic under review,” the notice said.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s first issued its revised lung cancer screening guidance in March. Casting a wider net to include all adults ages 50-80 who smoke or have quit within 15 years, the group’s revisions mean 14.5 million Americans are now eligible for screening (an 81% jump from 2013 recommendations).

CMS now must update its screening coverage to reflect these fresh eligibility thresholds. Those requesting the National Coverage Determination reconsideration in March included the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the American College of Radiology.

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