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Debating the price of life: Doctor takes issue with view of lung cancer screenings as too costly

Recently the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) recommended against Medicare coverage for lung cancer screenings that studies estimate could save over 12,000 lives a year. The reason: cost. Copper-lungs-2

One expert, Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope, takes issue with the new mathematical model used to arrive at the cost estimate. Raz said the model overstates the cost.

The model showed that screening would detect about 55,000 more lung cancers over five years, most in the early stages when they can be cured. The model estimated it would cost $9.3 billion over five years, or about a $3 per month premium increase for every Medicare member, to screen and treat the cases. 

Raz is one of many critics of the CMS recommendation against the screenings, which runs counter to the thinking of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommends annual scans for current and former smokers between ages 55 and 79 who smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for at least 30 years. Read more, 

 

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