Study: Medicaid expansion may be helping African Americans get quicker access to cancer treatment

Does Medicaid expansion help African Americans gain quicker access to cancer treatment? A new study hints that may be the case.

Researchers at the Yale Cancer Center analyzed more than 30,000 health records of adults diagnosed with advanced or metastatic cancer to see how quickly they began treatment after being diagnosed. They found that before 2014, when states began expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, 48.3 percent of whites started treatment within 30 days of diagnosis, compared with 43.5 percent of African Americans.

But starting in 2014, states that expanded Medicaid eligibility saw more patients starting treatment within 30 days of diagnosis. Among African Americans, the increase was to 49.6 percent, while for whites it was to 50.3 percent.

“The post-expansion difference between the two groups access to timely care was no longer statistically significant,” Amy Davidoff, PhD, a senior research scientist in the cancer center and one of the study’s authors, said in a news release. The authors caution that their findings suggest, but don’t prove, that the improved health equity resulted from Medicaid expansion.

The authors presented results of the study earlier this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2019 annual meeting.