ACR implores radiologists to speak up as feds eye expanded lung cancer screening coverage

The American College of Radiology is imploring the specialty to speak up as the federal government mulls whether to expand payment coverage for low-dose CT lung cancer screening.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services revealed earlier this week that it’s opening a National Coverage Analysis of this service, at the request of ACR and others. Physician groups want the administration to update lung cancer screening payment parameters to match new U.S. Preventative Services Task Force guidance, dropping the eligibility age from 55 down to 50.

CMS is now accepting feedback from the field through June 17, and the college said it needs docs to make their voices heard.

“It is essential for the physician community, patient advocates and other stakeholders to participate in the CMS review process to ensure expanded access to this essential preventive screening for many more Americans,” said CEO William Thorwarth, MD, adding that vulnerable populations may not meet the current eligibility criteria. “We are encouraged by CMS’ willingness to consider necessary changes to coverage documents that were last updated in 2015. It now is up to the medical community to provide the information required to effect change.”

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. Officials hope to reach a decision in November and complete a final coverage analysis by February.

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