A Message on Lung Cancer Screening from LCA President & CEO, Laurie Fenton Ambrose
At this critical moment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are deliberating whether or not to offer full Medicare coverage for low dose CT screening those at high risk for lung cancer. In recent weeks, the chorus of support from the scientific, medical and consumer community has grown louder and clearer in support of full Medicare coverage for this lifesaving benefit.
Yesterday, we were joined by an unprecedented coalition of over 70 medical, professional and public health leaders on a letter to CMS that offered an approach to lung cancer screening that would assure that high quality screening for our at risk seniors would be deployed equitably and cost effectively.
This coalition letter comes on the heels of new peer reviewed research cost effectiveness studies that should finally put to rest the few remaining questions related to whether lung cancer screening for high risk seniors should be covered by Medicare:
- Consumer Reports, for the first time ever, included lung cancer screening on its list of “recommended cancer tests.” That list was reprinted in the Washington Post last week. Not only did Consumer Reports recommend screening, but it also took the extra step of calling for Medicare coverage for lung cancer screening for the high risk USPSTF population.
- The New York Times published an Op-Ed, co-authored by Dr. Andrea McKee, an expert on lung cancer screening and a member of our Medical Advisory Board, calling lung cancer screening “a significant victory…in the war against cancer.”
- Questions about whether the profound life saving benefits of lung cancer screening applied to the Medicare population were put to rest in a peer reviewed article released in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine. That article specifically showed that the lifesaving findings from one of the NCI’s largest and most expensive clinical trials held true, even when applied only to the Medicare population;
- The cost effectiveness of lung cancer screening specifically in the Medicare population was also carefully analyzed and proven in a peer reviewed study conducted by the international actuarial firm, Milliman, Inc., and published last month.
CMS should know they stand on firm ground in making their decision to support our at risk seniors. The range of voices now calling for full and equitable coverage of lung cancer screening by Medicare population is broad and diverse and included experts and advocates with proven commitments to science, data and most of all, saving lives. CMS should move forward with confidence and approve coverage for lung cancer screening without unnecessary delay.