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Roundup: Affordable Care Act Improves Cancer Treatment For People of Color

Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology this past weekend found the Affordable Care Act to be linked to a reduction in racial disparities in cancer care as well as earlier diagnosis and treatment. Here’s how these findings were covered:

Essence: While Republicans Work To Dismantle The Affordable Care Act, It’s Saving Black Cancer Patients’ Lives. “The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, does more than just make health care affordable to all, it’s also opening doors to life-saving treatment for Black cancer patients. New studies find that the ACA is linked to minimizing racial disparities within the care of cancer patients and earlier diagnoses for ovarian cancer patients, which often goes undetected until it spreads and becomes fatal, according to The Mayo Clinic.” [Essence, 6/3/19]

The Root: Affordable Care Act Reduces Racial Disparities In Cancer Treatment. “It turns out the Affordable Care Act may have acted to make care affordable and accessible to black folks. According to new research, the law has been linked to a reduction in racial disparities in the care of cancer patients and to earlier diagnoses and treatment for ovarian cancer, according to the Washington Post… Today, black adults in states with expanded Medicaid under the ACA are almost entirely caught up with white patients for early treatment.” [The Root, 6/2/19]

Washington Post: ACA Linked To Reduced Racial Disparities, Earlier Diagnosis And Treatment In Cancer Care. “Proponents of the embattled Affordable Care Act got additional ammunition Sunday: New research links the law to a reduction in racial disparities in the care of cancer patients and to earlier diagnoses and treatment of ovarian cancer, one of the most dangerous malignancies. According to researchers involved in the racial-disparity study, 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 being given a diagnosis. But today, black adults in states that expanded Medicaid under the law have almost entirely caught up with white patients in getting timely treatment, researchers said. Another study showed that after implementation of the law, ovarian cancer was diagnosed at earlier stages and that more women began treatment within a month. The speedier diagnoses and treatment were likely to have increased patients’ chances of survival, the researchers said.” [Washington Post, 6/2/19]

STAT: The Affordable Care Act Erased A Racial Disparity In Cancer Care, A New Study Says. “The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2010 nearly erased a key disparity in access to cancer care for white and African-American patients, according to a new study…Without Medicaid expansion, white patients received chemotherapy within a month of their cancer diagnosis 48.3% of the time. But African-American patients received chemotherapy within a month 43.5% of the time, 4.8-point difference. In states where Medicaid was expanded, this 4.8-point difference decreased to 0.8 points, a difference that was not statistically significant. In white patients, the Medicaid expansion increased the percent of patients who received chemotherapy in a month by two points; among African- Americans, there was a six-point change.” [STAT, 6/2/19]

CNN: Medicaid Expansion Tied To ‘Timely’ Treatment For Black Cancer Patients, Study Says. “‘The new findings came as no surprise to Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was not involved in the research. ‘It tells you that insurance is important. Insurance matters,’ Benjamin said…So again you’re beginning to see more and more of this evidence that the states that did not expand are putting their citizens at extraordinary risk, which is preventable,’ Benjamin said. ‘They’re missing an opportunity to improve the health of their population and with this new cancer study, it shows that they’re also missing an opportunity to address issues around health equity.’” [CNN, 6/2/19]

Associated Press: More Blacks Got Timely Cancer Care Under ‘Obamacare.’ “New research suggests that states that expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act eliminated racial differences in being able to quickly start on treatment after a diagnosis of advanced cancer. The law that is often called “Obamacare” let states expand Medicaid eligibility and offer subsidies to help people buy health insurance.” [Associated Press, 6/2/19]

Wall Street Journal: One New Study Showed Earlier Diagnosis And Treatment Of Ovarian Cancer Under ACA. “One of the new studies concluded that the rates of diagnosis of earlier-stage ovarian cancer and start of treatment within 30 days improved after the implementation of the ACA. The study, led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s department of gynecology and obstetrics in Baltimore, used data on more than 70,000 patients from the National Cancer Database, which is run by medical groups and includes information about roughly 70% of newly diagnosed cancer patients…The study found a 1.7% relative improvement in early-stage ovarian-cancer diagnosis among women under 65, and a 1.6% gain in their start of treatment within 30 days of diagnosis. Dr. Anna Jo Smith, the lead study author, said the ACA improved patients’ access to primary-care doctors, which may have helped detect early-stage ovarian cancers.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/2/19]