Senators push for Medicare to cover lung cancer test

Forty-four senators have asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand coverage for an early lung-cancer screening test under Medicare.

The effort is being led by Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSunday Shows Preview: Emmanuel Macron talks ahead of state dinner CIA declassifies memo on nominee's handling of interrogation tapes Senate panel punts Mueller protection bill to next week MORE (D-Calif.) and Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonNow is the time to modernize the OTC monograph system Overnight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan The Hill's Morning Report: Haley clashes with White House MORE (R-Ga.).

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“[W]hen cancer is caught early patients have the best chance of survival,” said the lawmakers in a letter dated Wednesday to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

They called on the CMS to speed up approval for low-dose CT scans to be covered by Medicare.

“Fortunately, low-dose CT scans have been found to be an effective tool in catching lung cancer early,” said the letter.

“It is our hope that fully utilizing this screening tool as appropriate based on patient risk factors will help reduce the more than 156,000 deaths due to lung cancer in the United States each year.”

The lawmakers said a task force has already recommended the screening for high-risk patients. Patients with private insurance already have access to the tests, but Medicare recipients are still waiting for CMS’s approval.

“With the median age of lung cancer diagnosis being age 70, it is essential that seniors on Medicare have access to this screening tool,” the senators said.