Lung Cancer Policy & Advocacy

We’re committed to defeating lung cancer and advocating for patients affected by this disease.

The Lung Association supports policies to reduce the risk of lung cancer, increase screening for those at high risk and improve access to treatment. Many of these policies are incorporated into our work on tobacco, healthy air, and healthcare advocacy.

Improving Early Detection of Lung Cancer

Detecting lung cancer in early stages versus late stage is often the difference between life and death. Low-dose CT scans among those at high risk for lung cancer can help detect this disease earlier and has been shown to reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20 percent. The Lung Association is committed to improving access to lifesaving lung cancer screenings.

In 2017, the Lung Association and the Ad Council launched Saved By The Scan – a lung cancer screening campaign to raise awareness among current and former smokers about the importance of getting screened.

You can also read and download our screening Q&A

We’re also working to improve early diagnosis for people who do not meet the high-risk criteria for screening through our research efforts, our advocacy for the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other activities. Learn more in our improving early diagnosis infographic.  

Lung Cancer Screening Coverage

In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Medicare) approved coverage for low-dose CT scans in high-risk Medicare beneficiaries. Through additional requirements in the Affordable Care Act for private insurance plans, many Americans who are at high risk for lung cancer now have access to free annual screening as a preventive service recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

In 2019, the Lung Association launched the State Lung Cancer Screening Coverage Project to improve coverage for lung cancer screening in state Medicaid programs. Learn more in our State Lung Cancer Screening Coverage Toolkit

In 2021, USPSTF updated its recommendation for low-dose CT scans to detect lung cancer to include people ages 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Our USPSTF Lung Cancer Screening Recommendation Toolkit provides additional information and resources on the updated guidelines. This includes the Lung Cancer Screening Billing Guide, which prepares healthcare professionals to navigate lung cancer screening coverage and to work with payers on billing issues. 

The USPSTF guidelines are facing a new challenge in the court case Braidwood v Becerra. This case disputes the ACA’s requirement that most plans cover preventive services without cost-sharing, including lung cancer screening. The Lung Association maintains the page with updates on the case and key resources for stakeholders on protecting cost-free access to these services. 

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American Lung Association volunteer and LUNG FORCE Hero, Martha H., shares how she has lost several members to lung cancer who smoked menthol cigarettes and asks Congress for more access to lung cancer screening and more resources to help people quit smoking.

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LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day

Each year, we bring LUNG FORCE Heroes from across the country to Washington DC to ask their Members of Congress to support policies that help patients with lung cancer. Read about Advocacy Day and help amplify the efforts of our LUNG FORCE Heroes this year.

Page last updated: March 6, 2024

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