A greater increase in cancer survivorship may be an outcome from Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to study results published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in May 2022.

The authors studied patients aged 18–62 years who were diagnosed before (2010–2012) and after (2014–2016) the ACA Medicaid expansion. Results showed that overall two-year survivorship increased from 80.58% to 82.23% for patients with cancer in states with the ACA Medicaid expansion. The increase was prominent among non-Hispanic Blacks and rural residents. When broken down by cancer site, colorectal cancer survivorship saw the greatest increase.

“Our findings provide further evidence of the importance of expanding Medicaid eligibility in all states, particularly considering the economic crisis and healthcare disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Xuesong Han, PhD, the American Cancer Society’s scientific director of health services research and the study’s primary author, said. “What’s encouraging is the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides new incentives for Medicaid expansion in states that have yet to increase eligibility.”

Although the authors noted that more monitoring is needed to fully understand ACA’s long-term health outcomes, they acknowledged that the findings show how Medicaid expansion is useful in reducing health disparities.

All patients need equal access to care and services for reducing cancer mortality. Lack of adequate healthcare coverage affects all aspects of a patient’s cancer experience and outcomes, including prevention, screening, treatment delays and adherence, and, ultimately, mortality. Advocate for healthcare policies and educate your communities to ensure you can provide the best possible patient care.