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Higgins, Fitzpatrick, & Castor Introduce Legislation Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screenings

Bill Reduces Barriers to Annual Preventative Care

Congressmen Brian Higgins (NY-26) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Co-Chairs of the House Cancer Caucus, along with Congresswoman Kathy Castor (FL-14) introduced the Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening Act (H.R.4286). The bipartisan bill takes critical steps to increase lung cancer screening rates across the country while reducing barriers to preventative care in underserved areas.


“Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer in the United States, taking more lives than breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers combined. While early detection is our best protection, many Americans are not receiving the annual screenings they need,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation, because it will reduce barriers to preventative screenings and extend coverage to those experiencing the greatest risks. Together we are taking an important step toward ending cancer as we know it.”

“Lung cancer claims the most American lives annually of any form of cancer, accounting for nearly twenty-five percent of cancer deaths,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. “The single most effective way that we can improve outcomes is by increasing accessibility to early-detection screenings and that is why I am proud to join my colleagues on this bipartisan effort.”

“In the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths claiming the lives of too many American each year due to late diagnoses. Back home in Florida, only 3% of those eligible for lung cancer screenings were screened in 2022, identical to data from 2021,” said Congresswoman Kathy Castor. “I’m grateful to my bipartisan cosponsors, Reps. Higgins and Fitzpatrick, and for our work together to increase access to screenings and preventive services that will save lives. Together, with the help of premier cancer research institutions like Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa, we can save tens of thousands of lives every year by expanding access to lung screenings.”

“Lung cancer’s burden on families, individuals and our healthcare system is far too great. Lung cancer screening is key to early diagnosis, and early diagnosis saves lives. Unfortunately, in 2021, only 5.8% of those eligible had this lifesaving screening,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Thank you to Congressmen Brian Higgins and Brian Fitzpatrick, and Congresswoman Kathy Castor for sponsoring this bill to improve access to and raise awareness of critical lung cancer screening for those at high risk. We are also grateful that this bill will expand access to quit smoking services to everyone enrolled in Medicaid. Quitting smoking will lower the risk of lung cancer and is the best thing a person can do for their lung health.”

“It is critical to make lung cancer screening easier, more accessible and more equitable so that everyone who should be screened can be screened,” said Mary Reid, PhD, Chief of Screening, Survivorship and Mentorship at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Early detection of this disease through the use of low-dose CT scans can reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer by 20-25%. Simply put - it can save nearly 40,000 lives a year.”

“Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the United States and the leading cause of cancer death. These distressing outcomes are compounded by the fact that access to evidence-based screening is much lower for lung cancer than other screenable cancers. We have the tools to enable early detection of lung cancer, now we need to reduce barriers to accessing those tools,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®). “We at NCCN applaud the bipartisan sponsors of the Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening Act for championing this crucial issue. This legislation will reduce preventable cancer deaths by improving patient awareness and education, removing barriers to screening, and improving access to cancer prevention services.”

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be over 1.9 million cancer diagnoses and 600,000 deaths in 2023. Lung cancer alone accounts for more than 154,000 deaths annually. The United States Preventive Services Taskforce recommends annual lung cancer screenings for adults ages 50 to 80 with a significant smoking history. Unfortunately, just six percent of eligible Americans are receiving annual screenings and this number only decreases among underserved communities.

This legislation will reduce barriers and improve access to cancer screenings by requiring state Medicaid programs, Medicare, and private insurers to cover annual screenings for all eligible individuals based on guidance and recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Taskforce without cost-sharing. The bill will also prohibit prior authorization for lung cancer screenings, which is an obstacle for many patients. Additionally, it will expand coverage of tobacco cessation and pharmacotherapy to all eligible Medicaid enrollees.

This measure is endorsed by the American Lung Association, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Lungevity, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Moffitt Cancer Center.