Cancer Death Rates Fell 1.4% More in Early Medicaid Expansion States

According to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, cancer death rates declined more sharply in U.S. states that expanded Medicaid early on under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) than in states that opted out of Medicaid expansion.

The study compared cancer mortality data among adults under the age of 64 in 25 states from before and after the ACA was enacted (2007-2009 vs. 2012-2016). California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, Washington, and Washington D.C., saw rates of cancer deaths decline by 7.7%, compared with 6.3% in the 19 non-expansion states. According to the investigators, this translates to a decrease of 3.07 cancer deaths per 100,000 people, or a total of 5,276 deaths averted in early expansion states.

“It is important to be able to show that there has been a mortality benefit associated with Medicaid expansion,” said lead author Nosayaba (Nosa) Osazuwa-Peters, MPH, PhD, an assistant professor in Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. “Expanding access to health care enabled people to seek care earlier rather than waiting or not going to the doctor at all. And there is quite a bit of evidence that catching cancer early is better for outcomes.”

Source: Duke Health press release, July 21, 2021.