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.
The findings were released Sunday as abstracts at the annual meeting in Chicago of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which attracts upwards of 40,000 cancer specialists.
According to the Post, researchers saw that black citizens with advanced cancer were 4.8 percentage points less likely to begin treatment for their disease within a month of diagnosis before the ACA’s passage.
Today, black adults in states with expanded Medicaid under the ACA are almost entirely caught up with white patients for early treatment.
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A separate study showed that ovarian cancer was diagnosed earlier since the bill was made law, and more black women begin treatment within a month. According to policy experts who were not part of the studies, the findings are consistent with previous data linking the ACA with improved access to insurance and care.
“What’s new here are findings that the ACA and Medicaid expansions have had specific impacts on patients with cancer, and that’s great,” said radiation oncologist professor Justin Bekelman of the University of Pennsylvania, who noted that the studies failed to address whether the ACA lengthened survival or improved quality of life.
Other experts have observed that the data, however hopeful, exposes another kind of disparity. According to Otis Brawley, a Johns Hopkins oncologist, said “[W]e are moving from black-white disparities to Massachusetts versus Mississippi disparities,” referring to the gap between states that have opted to expand Medicaid and those that have not.