The nation's top cancer doctors are pressuring Medicare to begin covering life-saving lung cancer screenings.
"We want to make sure we do everything possible to save the lives of people who are at risk for lung cancer by making coverage a reality,'' Dr. Ella Kazerooni, division director for Cardiothoracic Radiology at the University of Michigan Health System, told "The Steve Malzberg Show'' on Newsmax TV
"Medicare hasn’t made a decision yet and what we're trying to do through many avenues and communicate with Medicare is to help them make the right decision and cover lung cancer screening,'' she said.
Kazerooni, who also is a professor of radiology and the Associate Chair of Clinical Affairs at UMHS, said the procedures have already gotten the green light for coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
"When the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force comes out with a recommendation — a category A or B under the terms of the Affordable Care Act — third-party payers are required to include it as a covered benefit,'' she said.
"Last December … [the task force] gave lung cancer screening a grade B recommendation to cover lung cancer screening for individuals 55 to 80 years of age who are high risk smokers … That's a great win.
"However, Medicare and [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] are not required to follow the terms of the Affordable Care Act. They will do their own evidence review and come to their own conclusions."
Kazerooni shudders to think of the consequences if the tests for Medicare recipients are rejected.
"That would be a real outrage for the people who are at the highest risk,'' she said.
"The research is overwhelmingly definitive that screening for lung cancer with CT scans reduces lung cancer death and for people who are under 65, if they're able to get that as the covered benefit, they'll get the benefit of reduced mortality from lung cancer by picking it up earlier.
"Once they hit 65, if they're not covered, that would be a real travesty of healthcare to see it not covered.''
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