Medicaid expansion linked with fewer cancer deaths

Medicaid expansion propelled by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been linked with a significant reduction in rates of newly diagnosed breast, lung, and colon cancer deaths, according to a new study.

Researchers led by Miranda Lam, an instructor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tracked nearly 524,000 patients across the U.S. who were newly diagnosed with one of the three major cancers between 2012 and 2015. They found that death rates from these cancers were lower in states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA than in those that didn’t. The lower numbers of deaths were mostly due to people being diagnosed earlier, according to the study.

“Increased Medicaid coverage may remove barriers to accessing the health care system for screening and timely symptom evaluation, and that can translate into better outcomes for patients,” said Lam in a press release from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she is a radiation oncologist.

Other Harvard Chan School authors included Jessica Phelan, statistical analyst/programmer; E. John Orav, associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics; and Ashish Jha, adjunct professor of global health.

Read the Dana-Farber press release: Medicaid expansion linked to lower mortality rates for three major types of cancer

Read a HealthDay article: Obamacare Cut Death Rates for 3 Major Cancers