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Lung Cancer Screening Rate Hits New High

KMA’s “Breathe Better Kentucky” initiative helps state soar to #2 in nation in lung cancer screening rates

Kentucky was recently ranked #2 in the nation for lung cancer screening rates by the American Lung Association in their 2023 State of Lung Cancer report. But what helped nudge the Commonwealth to the top of the list?

In the fall of 2021, then-Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) President Neal Moser, MD, kicked off his year of service with a mission: to improve the lung health of patients in a state where tobacco use and chronic lung diseases had chained Kentucky to the bottom of health rankings for years. Add to that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on lung health, and Moser was determined to find a way to help Kentuckians “breathe better.”

As a pulmonologist, Moser knew the combined impact of those issues would be an uphill battle. The KMA teamed up with its charitable arm, the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care (KFMC), and the Anthem Foundation to put together a year-long campaign called “Breathe Better Kentucky” that encompassed public awareness, education for physicians, and advocacy in Frankfort to reach as many residents as possible and create the biggest impact.

“We wanted to take a multifaceted approach to this initiative. We knew Kentuckians were suffering from lung health issues, in great numbers, and the pandemic had only worsened our outcomes. By not only providing messaging to the public, but also education for our providers and advocating for important bills in the legislature, we were able to make real changes happen,” said Moser.

The centerpiece of the project was the sponsorship of a three-part series on Kentucky Educational Television (KET), Fighting to

In 2021, then Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) President Neal Moser, MD, speaks to the KY Crushed Stone Association (KCSA) on the harmful effects of dust on the lungs and the importance of lung screening for workers.

Breathe, that examined the story of lung disease in Kentucky—the causes, the impact on those afflicted, and the exciting new developments in treatment and prevention. Hosts Renee Shaw and KMA member and Kentucky Health host Wayne Tuckson, MD, spoke with researchers, experts, advocates, and survivors who revealed eye-opening information that challenged basic assumptions about lung health. The program was also sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Airing in the winter of 2022, the series received widespread praise and viewership of more than 50,000 during its premiere. It was re-aired more than twenty times throughout the season, and six segments from the series were also placed on PBS Learning Media, a free online repository providing curated materials for teachers K-12. More than one million teachers have access to this content. It continues to remain available on

In addition to the KET series, Breathe Better Kentucky tackled disparities by utilizing targeted social media and web advertisements in communities where lung health issues were more prevalent, public service announcements and radio advertisements, as well as messaging on streaming services. More than one million Kentuckians were reached through these efforts. A dedicated website,, housed resources and important information as well.

The Kentucky Legislature and Your KMA

The KMA knows some of the most meaningful changes happen in and because of actions taken at the state capitol in Frankfort, so during the 2022 legislative session, KMA made lung cancer screening one of its top

In November of 2023, the American Lung Association released its “State of Lung Cancer” report, which revealed that Kentucky now ranks second in the nation for lung cancer screening rates.

priorities, and successfully advocated for the passage of House Bill 219. Sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Moser, HB219 established the Lung Cancer Screening Program within the Kentucky Department of Public Health and the Lung Cancer Screening Advisory Committee. The program and advisory committee work collaboratively to increase lung cancer screening, reduce the state’s morbidity and mortality from lung cancer, reduce the cost associated with the treatment of lung cancer, and raise public awareness regarding the benefits of screening. Funding for the program in the amount of $1 million was included in the separate budget bill (House Bill 1) passed by lawmakers.

“We were thrilled with the passage of House Bill 219,” said Moser. “While getting legislation through that says, ‘this is a priority’ is always a win, getting the funding in place to actually make changes is when things really happen, so having that money earmarked in the state budget was huge.”

Finally, KMA set out to make lung health a priority for its member physicians as well. Through its “CME Guarantee” program, KMA produced two one-hour virtual education sessions that discussed improving outcomes, new technologies, eliminating health inequity, and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Success is a Team Effort

In November of 2023, the American Lung Association released its “State of Lung Cancer” report, which revealed that Kentucky now ranks second in the nation for lung cancer screening rates, putting the Commonwealth among the best in the country in the category. It had previously ranked fourth.

“While we know that improvement is the result of the work of many, many people, I am pleased to think that our KMA played even a small role in such an achievement,” said Moser.

“It’s gratifying to witness a project that we already felt was ‘successful’ continue to cultivate positive changes for our patients that are going to lead to thousands leading longer, healthier lives,” said current KMA President Michael Kuduk, MD. “We want to thank everyone who was involved, especially the KFMC, KET, the Anthem Foundation (now the Elevance Health Foundation), and all our physician members who worked tirelessly to get the word out and ensure their voices were heard.”

“There’s still work to be done in Kentucky, both in the areas of lung health and on other issues of course, but we couldn’t be more pleased with the results of the Breathe Better campaign and look forward to using it as a model for additional public health efforts in the future,” said Moser. “It’s clear that by working together, and amplifying the voices of physicians, we are able to achieve great things.”