LDCT lung-cancer screening support spreads to House

Exactly one week after 45 U.S. Senators sent a letter to CMS urging the expeditious conclusion of the National Coverage Decision (NCD) for LDCT lung-cancer screening, 134 U.S. Representatives did the same, implying broad bipartisan support of access to the screening study for high-risk Medicare recipients.

The letter sent today and signed by 134 members of the U.S. House of Representatives was authored by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), and Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) co-authored the letter signed by 45 senators and dated May 28, 2014, requesting that CMS expedite the NCD review.

Today’s letter from the House expressed strongly worded sentiment that Medicare patients have access to evidence-based and appropriate care without delay, citing the United States Preventive Services Task Force B recommendation for screening for high-risk patients.  “CMS is required to issue a final decision regarding low-dose CT lung-cancer screening by February 8, 2015, however it can take several (6+) months to place instructions to Medicare contractors before patients 65 and older actually start being able to receive the procedure,” they wrote.

As did the Senators in their letter, the signatories from the House asked that CMS provide written correspondence updating the body on the NCD process going forward.

Both the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) and the ACR took note of the growing Congressional support for lung-cancer screening.

“We commend the authors of these bipartisan letters for their leadership and commitment to providing care for the tens of thousands of seniors who stand to benefit from access to LDCT to detect lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage,” said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of MITA, in a prepared statement.

A release from the ACR provided the following statement from Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president and CEO, Lung Cancer Alliance, a patient-advocacy organization: “We are now starting to screen those at high risk under the age of 65. A person’s risk for lung cancer does not magically disappear when they reach that age. Therefore it is neither logical nor ethical to stop screening at that point. We shouldn’t have a patchwork system that provides access to some and then not others at high risk.”