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Medicaid Expansion Tied to Greater Use of Cancer-Related Palliative Care

Increases in palliative care greater for expansion versus nonexpansion states

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 10, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Medicaid expansion is associated with increased use of palliative care for patients with advanced cancer, according to a study published in the July issue of Health Affairs.

Xuesong Han, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Kennesaw, Georgia, and colleagues examined the association between Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and receipt of palliative care among patients newly diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers. The analysis included data from the National Cancer Database (2010 to 2019; >1,200 Commission on Cancer-accredited hospitals).

The researchers found that the percentage of eligible patients who received palliative care as part of first-course treatment increased from 17.0 percent pre-expansion to 18.9 percent postexpansion in Medicaid expansion states and from 15.7 to 16.7 percent, respectively, in nonexpansion states. In adjusted analyses, this yielded a net increase of 1.3 percentage points in expansion states. Patients with advanced pancreatic, colorectal, lung, and oral cavity and pharynx cancers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma saw the largest increases in receipt of palliative care associated with Medicaid expansion.

“These findings are consistent with earlier reports that indicate a promising role for expanding Medicaid eligibility in improving access to high-quality cancer care, and they support efforts to improve access to palliative care for patients with advanced-stage cancers at the patient, provider, organizational, and policy levels,” the authors write.

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