Lung cancer screening expanded by Medicare in bid to improve early detection. More people eligible for screening via low dose computed tomography.
The Biden administration has expanded Medicare coverage of a lung cancer screening tool that uses low dose computed tomography (LDCT) in an effort to catch cancers earlier.
Medicare Expands Lung Cancer Screening Criteria
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a national coverage determination late Thursday that expands the eligibility for people on Medicare to get screening via the LDCT, which combines x-ray equipment and computers to produce more sophisticated images of the body.
“Expanding coverage broadens access for lung cancer screening to at-risk populations,” said Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS’ chief medical officer in a statement. “Today’s decision not only expands access to quality care but is also critical to improving health outcomes for people by helping to detect lung cancer earlier.”
CMS lowered the eligibility age for people to get the screening tool from 55 to 50 years. It also reduced the tobacco smoking history from at least 30 packs a year to 20.
“This screening is aimed at early detection of non-small cell lung cancer,” CMS said in a release on Thursday.
The new decision also aims to simplify any requirements for decision-making. For instance, it removes a requirement that the radiologist that reads the screening “document participation in continuing medical education,” CMS said. The goal is to reduce the administrative burden on providers.
“CMS also added a requirement back to the [national coverage determination] criteria for radiology imaging facilities to use a standardized lung nodule identification, classification and reporting system,” the agency added.
LDCT is the only screening tool available for lung cancer.