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Press Release

Representatives Castor and Higgins Introduce Legislation to Increase Access to Lung Cancer Screening

Legislation Will Remove Barriers to Lung Cancer Screenings Across the United States

Congresswoman Kathy Castor (FL-14) and Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) introduced the Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening Act (H.R.9336). The bill will increase lung cancer screening rates across the United States and reduce barriers to care and preventative services in underserved communities.

“Lung cancer kills too many Americans each year due in part to late-stage diagnoses. In Florida, only 3% of those eligible for lung cancer screenings were screened in 2021. It’s time to boost that statistic. Our new bill will help increase access to screenings and preventive services to save lives across America,” said Congresswoman Kathy Castor. “Fortunately, Moffitt Cancer Center, one of the nation’s premier cancer research institutes, is at the forefront of cancer prevention and working to remove barriers to ensure that all Americans have access to lifesaving screenings and health care. Together, we are committed to saving tens of thousands of lives lost to lung cancer each year through outreach and early detection like lung screenings.”

“Like many cancers, early detection is our best protection against lung cancer. Unfortunately, there are still many barriers to screenings and rates across the country remain low, especially in underserved communities,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “This legislation will increase lung cancer screening rates and improve access to preventative care. It will help millions of families and bring us another step closer to ending cancer as we know it.”

“We estimate as many as 60,000 lives could be saved each year if the 14.5 million Americans who are eligible received annual lung cancer screening. This legislation will improve access to early detection, which is key to reducing lung cancer deaths. Outcomes for patients are much better when we can catch lung cancer at early stages when curative treatment options are available,” said Jhanelle E. Gray, M.D., department chair and program leader of Thoracic Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center.

In the United States, lung cancer accounts for 25 percent of all cancer-related deaths, claiming more lives than breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers combined. It is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths partially due to the fact that 46 percent of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage when treatment options are limited, and five-year survival rates are low.

This legislation will amend the Social Security Act to require all state Medicaid programs to cover lung cancer screening for eligible enrollees. It also expands coverage under Medicaid for counseling and medication assisted treatment for tobacco cessation for all enrollees without the need for prior authorization. Additionally, the bill will prohibit both public and private insurers from subjecting annual lung cancer screenings to prior authorization.

Castor and Higgins are leading efforts to improve access to lung cancer screening in Tampa, Western New York and across the country. Castor requested $2.3 million for the Moffit Cancer Center in the FY 2023 budget for a mobile, electric lung cancer screening vehicle and programming to reach disadvantaged populations. Higgins secured $1.5 million for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in the FY2022 budget to support new and upgraded compute tomography (CT) equipment and lung cancer screening outreach in underserved communities. In September, they led a Cancer Caucus briefing titled “Lung Cancer Screening Saves Lives”. The event featured experts from Moffitt Cancer Center and Roswell Park presenting information the morality of late-stage lung cancer diagnosis, early detection, barriers to lung screenings, and the policy steps needed to increase screening rates and reduce lung-cancer related deaths nationwide.

In September, marking the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s moonshot speech, President Biden announced plans to reignite the Cancer Moonshot. Taking bold action to advance cancer research, the Cancer Moonshot aims to reduce cancer-related deaths by 50 percent over the next 25 years. The Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening Act will make critical contributions to our nation’s goal of ending cancer as we know it.

The bill is supported by Moffitt Cancer Center, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Lung Association.