A study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently revealed that there is a clear decrease in the mortality rate of three common cancers in states that voted to expand their Medicaid Programs. This is likely due to the increased availability of cancer care in Medicaid expansion states that leads to earlier diagnoses and better prognoses for those with breast, lung, and colorectal cancer.
Lowering the Mortality Rate
The cross-sectional study, released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in early November, included a total of 523,802 patients with newly diagnosed breast, lung, or colorectal cancer. Participants were each diagnosed between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2015, and were found through the National Cancer Database. Of the half a million patients in the study, 55.2 percent (289,330) lived in Medicaid expansion states and 44.8 percent (234,472) lived in non-Medicaid expansion states.
The researchers believe that this decrease is mainly due to the increased screening and treatment access offered by the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion. The difference in mortality rate is primarily seen when examining patients with stage I, II, or III cancer, also called nonmetastatic cancer, as a whole. When adjusting the data by the progression stage, the difference lessens by around half. This evidence suggests that those in the Medicaid expansion states seek medical attention sooner, and are thus diagnosed and begin treatment earlier, leading to more positive prognoses.
The Prevalence of Cancer
Over 275,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer, nearly 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer, and approximately 229,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed by the end of 2020, according to cancer.org. The three cancers studied are some of the most prominent cancers seen in America today, alongside skin and prostate cancer. Each year, cancer claims an estimated 600,000 American lives, but early detection is key to receiving a good prognosis. It is important to get checked for any changes that may be cancerous regularly.
Expanding Medicare Services
In 2014, the ACA allowed states to expand their Medicaid services to more Americans. When expansion started, those whose income fell below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Line qualified for Medicaid benefits. This percentage is now 133 percent. This allows families, whose income may fluctuate above and below the previously recognized eligibility level, access to affordable coverage, and improved insurance continuity.
As of the April 2020 enrollment deadline, Medicaid covers over 65 million people nationwide. As of August 2020, 38 states have officially voted to expand Medicaid, while 12 have voted not to expand or have yet to reach a consensus.
We hope this information on cancer care in Medicaid expansion states leading to decreased mortality rates is helpful to you.
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