Medicare Lowers Thresholds to Cover Lung Cancer Screening
By Joey Berlin

Medicare has announced expanded coverage for lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography (CT), the only recommended screening test for the disease.

In a national coverage determination issued Feb. 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) lowered the starting age for low-dose CT scans from 55 to 50, and also reduced the smoking-history threshold from 30 "pack-years" (years of smoking at least one pack per day) to 20 pack-years.

CMS Chief Medical Officer Lee Fleisher, MD, said in the announcement the coverage decision broadens access to lung screening for at-risk populations. It “not only expands access to quality care but is also critical to improving health outcomes for people by helping to detect lung cancer earlier,” he said.

According to CMS, the coverage decision also reduces administrative burden by removing a requirement for the radiologist reading the screening to document participation in CME, and by simplifying requirements for a counseling and shared decision-making visit.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the smoking-history threshold is measured in pack-years.

Last Updated On

April 05, 2022

Originally Published On

February 16, 2022

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Joey Berlin

Managing Editor

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Joey Berlin is managing editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area. He lives in Austin.

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