The following post was contributed by ACR Chief Executive Officer William T. Thorwarth, MD, FACR
Securing Medicare coverage for low-dose CT lung cancer screening was a monumental lift and a tremendous victory for patients, allied providers and the American College of Radiology (ACR).
The College helped form and mobilize a coalition of dozens of medical and patient advocacy groups to educate the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that these cost-effective exams can save more lives than any cancer screening test in history – if Medicare would just cover them for high-risk beneficiaries.
ACR government relations staff and volunteers also engaged and motivated 45 bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate and 133 bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives to cosign letters to CMS supporting Medicare coverage of this life saving exam.
An ACR public affairs campaign helped place our lung cancer screening position and/or spokespeople in 750 print and online news reports with cumulative readerships of nearly 800 million people. This included items in the Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report and Consumer Reports. Millions more heard these messages by radio and TV.
At the same time, the ACR mobilized experts within the College to create resources to help radiologists and allied providers to establish lung cancer screening programs in their communities:
- The ACR Lung Cancer Screening Center program helps ensure these exams are provided safely and effectively
- ACR Lung-RADS™ standardizes CT lung cancer screening reporting and management, aids lung CT interpretation and supports outcomes monitoring
- The ACR and the Society of Thoracic Radiology created CT lung cancer screening practice parameters
- The College also created a special lung cancer screening section on ACR.org to help members find the latest information and resources
Meanwhile, the ACR Lung Cancer Screening Registry has applied for CMS approval to help providers meet registry reporting requirements to receive Medicare reimbursement.
The College is also offering a number of lung cancer screening sessions at ACR 2015™, the college’s first ever all member meeting, May 17-25 in Washington, DC. These courses include:
- Lung Cancer Screening: From Science to Practice
- Lung Cancer Screening: CT Interpretation and Management
- Approach to Diffuse Lung Disease – Radiologic-Pathologic Correlation
- Lung Cancer Screening: Implementations and Economic Considerations for a Screening Program
I invite you to take advantage of everything ACR has to offer to help you and your patients strike back against this terrible disease that, until now, has been nearly untouchable.
All of radiology should feel good about Medicare and private insurance coverage of CT lung cancer screening and the thoughtful process that began with the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).
As you move forward with establishing quality screening programs, stop to appreciate the tens of thousands of lives each year that we are going to help save from the nation’s leading cancer killer.