Baton Rouge: The Louisiana Medicaid program is adapting its coverage guidelines for cervical cancer screening to conform to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines.
In accordance with the recently-released guidelines, Louisiana Medicaid will continue coverage for cervical cancer screening for women 21 and older who are considered average risk.
For those patients who are under age 21 and who were exposed to diethylstilbestrol before birth, have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a weakened immune system, a history of cervical cancer or other criteria outlined by ACOG, cervical cancer screening will be considered medically necessary and covered as such.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the vast majority of adolescent girls should wait until they turn 21 before they have their first Pap test, with exceptions for high risk individuals. In addition, ACOG specifically does not recommend Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing for adolescents, as 90 percent of HPV infections are naturally resolved by the immune system within two years. ACOG states, “Adolescents have been over-treated for something that typically resolves on its own.” Unnecessary treatments can compromise the cervix and increase a teen’s risk of having a preterm birth later in life.
“Louisiana Medicaid is committed to utilizing a clinical, evidence-based approach to healthcare. Incorporating evidence-based guidelines in clinical policy improves health outcomes, reduces waste, and prevents costly and potentially painful or harmful unnecessary procedures and tests,” said Dr. SreyRam Kuy, Medicaid Medical Director, Louisiana Department of Health.
Cervical cancer screening includes Pap tests and HPV tests. Women ages 21-65 should have regular cervical cancer screening following ACOG guidelines. These recommended tests will continue to be covered by Louisiana Medicaid. More information and testing guidelines can be found here.
Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee, also a practicing obstetrician gynecologist, stated, “It is vitally important that our coverage policies align with national clinical evidence-based guidelines.”