Pitt researchers find Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansions led to earlier detection of cancer


At a time when 28 million Americans remain uninsured, study provides evidence that expanding insurance coverage is a potential avenue to improve cancer outcomes.

TRIB LIVE - Preventive health care options ushered in by the Affordable Care Act helped doctors detect cancer in more patients earlier and may have reduced the number of late-stage cancer diagnoses around the country, University of Pittsburgh researchers found in a study released Thrusday  in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"The thing that is sort of potentially groundbreaking with the study is the finding that … we might be seeing the tip of the iceberg here where we’re stopping late-stage diagnoses by catching cancers early,” said Coleman Drake, senior author on the study and assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management.

Drake said his research team’s findings add to a growing body of studies demonstrating positive effects of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion component on health outcomes. “It’s really about getting people into the normal health care system rather than presenting at the ED (emergency department) or some other environment when things go wrong,” Drake said. “It allows people to access preventive health care.”

“Because we often don’t see the effects immediately, it’s important for us to keep studying the long-term consequences of health care reform,” said Lindsay Sabik, associate professor of health policy and management at Pitt Public Health and member of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

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