Lung Cancer Screenings Now Covered for Medicare Beneficiaries

Current and Former Smokers Age 55-77 Now Eligible for Coverage

Trenton, NJ, Feb. 6, 2015Capital Health’s Center for Oncology announced today that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final national coverage determination yesterday that provides for Medicare coverage of Screening for Lung Cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT). The coverage is effective immediately.

“Studies show that lung screening exams can lead to better outcomes for those who are at risk of lung cancer by finding it early, when it is easier to treat,” said Dr. Brad Hoppenfeld, director of Outpatient Imaging and a fellowship trained thoracic radiologist at Capital Health. “With the announcement from Medicare to cover beneficiaries for these screenings, our hope is that more people will now get screened earlier.”

According to yesterday’s announcement, Medicare will now cover lung cancer screening with LDCT once per year for Medicare beneficiaries who meet all of the following criteria: 

  • they are age 55-77, and are either current smokers or have quit smoking within the last 15 years;
  • they have a tobacco smoking history of at least 30 “pack years” (an average of one pack a day for 30 years); and 
  • they receive a written order from a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner that meets certain requirements.

In September, Capital Health announced a new Lung CT Screening Program offered through the Center for Oncology at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell for current or former smokers. By using extremely low-dose 128- and 256-slice CT scans, highly trained radiologists and staff can take detailed images of the lungs in less than 10 seconds. The results are shared with the patient’s primary care doctor for follow up care. No contrast is involved. No blood test is required. No needles are used.

“With a navigator available to help patients through the process, our program has already made it convenient for patients to get screened. With yesterday’s announcement, we’re hoping that removing cost for Medicare beneficiaries will make it even easier for people to get these lifesaving screenings,” said Rona Remstein, director of Oncology Services at Capital Health.

Anyone who is interested in scheduling a LDCT exam at the new Lung CT Screening Program at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell can call the nurse navigator toll-free at 1.844.303.LUNG (5864). All patients need a prescription (which the navigator will provide for patients to bring to their primary care doctor) and $99 (if they are not covered by Medicare).

More information about the Capital Health Lung CT Screening Program is available at www.capitalhealth.org/lungct.

Yesterday’s announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) can be found at http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2015-Press-releases-items/2015-02-05.html.  

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