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Private Payer and Medicare Coverage Policies for Use of Circulating Tumor DNA Tests in Cancer Diagnostics and Treatment.

BACKGROUND: Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is used to select initial targeted therapy, identify mechanisms of therapeutic resistance, and measure minimal residual disease (MRD) after treatment. Our objective was to review private and Medicare coverage policies for ctDNA testing. n METHODS: Policy Reporter was used to identify coverage policies (as of February 2022) from private payers and Medicare Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs) for ctDNA tests. We abstracted data regarding policy existence, ctDNA test coverage, cancer types covered, and clinical indications. Descriptive analyses were performed by payer, clinical indication, and cancer type. n RESULTS: A total of 71 of 1,066 total policies met study inclusion criteria, of which 57 were private policies and 14 were Medicare LCDs; 70% of private policies and 100% of Medicare LCDs covered at least one indication. Among 57 private policies, 89% specified a policy for at least 1 clinical indication, with coverage for ctDNA for initial treatment selection most common (69%). Of 40 policies addressing progression, coverage was provided 28% of the time, and of 20 policies addressing MRD, coverage was provided 65% of the time. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was the cancer type most frequently covered for initial treatment (47%) and progression (60%). Among policies with ctDNA coverage, coverage was restricted to patients without available tissue or in whom biopsy was contraindicated in 91% of policies. MRD was commonly covered for hematologic malignancies (30%) and NSCLC (25%). Of the 14 Medicare LCD policies, 64% provided coverage for initial treatment selection and progression, and 36% for MRD. n CONCLUSIONS: Some private payers and Medicare LCDs provide coverage for ctDNA testing. Private payers frequently cover testing for initial treatment, especially for NSCLC, when tissue is insufficient or biopsy is contraindicated. Coverage remains variable across payers, clinical indications, and cancer types despite inclusion in clinical guidelines, which could impact delivery of effective cancer care.

Authors: Douglas, Michael P;Ragavan, Meera V;Chen, Cheng;Kumar, Anika;Gray, Stacy W;Blakely, Collin M;Phillips, Kathryn A

J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2023 Jun;21(6):609-616.e4. doi: 10.6004/jnccn.2023.7011..

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