Affordable Care Act Associated With Improvements in Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment
According to new research, the Affordable Care Act is linked to a reduction in racial disparities in cancer patient care, as well as to the earlier diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer, reports the Washington Post.
These findings were released Sunday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, where 40,000 cancer specialists gather annually for one of the world’s largest oncology conferences.
Researchers involved in the racial-disparity study say that before the ACA went into effect, African Americans with advanced cancer were 4.8 percentage points less likely to start treatment for their disease within 30 days of their diagnoses. Today, black adults in states that expanded Medicaid under the law have almost the same rates as white patients do in starting treatment on time.
The other part of the study shows that after implementation of the ACA, ovarian cancer was diagnosed at earlier stages and that more women began treatment within 30 days. These speedier diagnoses and starts to treatment likely have increased patients’ chances of survival.
Healthcare experts not involved in the studies conclude that these findings are consistent with previous data showing the ACA’s association with increased access to health insurance and improved medical care.
Justin Bekelman, a radiation oncologist and health policy professor at the University of Pennsylvania said, “What’s new here are findings that the ACA and Medicaid expansions have had specific impacts on patients with cancer, and that’s great.”
This new research was released in the midst of political battles over the ACA, as the Trump administration continues to try to strike down the entire law as unconstitutional.