How Medicare Could Cover CT Screening for Lung Cancer — Physician’s First Watch
How Medicare Could Cover CT Screening for Lung Cancer
By Kelly Young
A commentary in the Annals of Internal Medicine offers suggestions for how Medicare could safely and effectively cover lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) among heavy smokers.
Earlier in 2014, Medicare advisers issued a "low-confidence" vote on whether the benefits would outweigh the harms of screening in Medicare beneficiaries, even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended screening high-risk groups in late 2013.
The author, a pulmonologist, says that in a worst-case scenario, Medicare could decline to cover the test entirely. A more palatable approach, she writes, would be for Medicare to cover the procedure when it's done at facilities with certified, patient-centered programs that could ensure only eligible patients are screened, offer smoking-cessation treatments, and maintain a patient registry.
She concludes: "To avoid the hard lessons learned from overzealous implementation of prostate cancer screening, we must get implementation of LDCT screening right from the outset. A [Medicare] determination that LDCT screening will only be covered in qualified facilities may provide the perfect opportunity to do so."