CMS Proposes Policy to Increase Access to Lifesaving Lung Cancer Screening

Expanding Medicare coverage of lung cancer screening is an opportunity to save lives

Today, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed coverage determination to update its lung cancer screening eligibility guidelines for people covered by Medicare that takes into consideration new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations. When the final Medicare coverage determination is finalized, more Americans will be eligible to receive lifesaving lung cancer screenings.

In March, the USPSTF expanded the guidelines for screening to include individuals ages 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. This recommendation nearly doubled the number of individuals eligible for screening and has the potential to save significantly more lives. CMS’s proposed policy would expand coverage to a similar population, but for ages 50 to 77.

“Today’s proposal from CMS would give more people enrolled in Medicare access to lifesaving lung cancer screening. Screening for individuals at high risk is the only tool to catch this disease early when it is more curable,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Unfortunately, only 5.7% of people who are eligible have been screened, so it’s important that we talk with our friends and family who are at high risk about getting screened.”  

When final, the updated Medicare recommendation will be an important step forward to address racial disparities associated with lung cancer. The Lung Association’s 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report showed that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans because they are less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment, and more likely to not receive any treatment. 

In June, the Lung Association submitted comments to CMS expressing strong support for this new recommendation.  The Lung Association will comment on this draft proposal as well.

Learn more about lung cancer screening and lung health at or For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung cancer and lung cancer screening, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-940-7001.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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