Medicaid expansion is a key, cancer advocacy group says
Most states are falling short in their cancer prevention and treatment efforts, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society.
Details of the report
ACS CAN evaluated states on nine policy areas. Each state was given a rating of green, yellow, or red in each area—with green indicating a state “has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices,” yellow signifying progress on the issue, and red meaning “falling short.”
In addition to tobacco-related policies, the report reviewed policies such as:
- Providing Medicaid coverage for smoking cessation;
- Choosing to expand Medicaid;
- Banning indoor tanning for minors;
- Promoting palliative care; and
- Ensuring access to screenings for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers.
While no states were ranked green in seven or more of the nine policy areas, 25 had a green rating in two or fewer areas, and 22 states and Washington, D.C., received a green rating in three to five policy areas. The only states to achieve the highest rating in six areas were Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
In a statement, ACS CAN President Chris Hansen said, “Most states are failing to implement laws and policies that not only prevent cancer and save lives, but lower health care costs and generate revenue at the same time.”
According to Hansen, about half of cancer deaths could be prevented if “everyone were to stop using tobacco, eat healthy foods in moderation, exercise regularly, and get recommended screenings.” He added that “lawmakers play a key role in making this a reality.”
Priorities for action
According to the report, Medicaid expansion has helped to fight cancer by allowing more low-income individuals to gain coverage. Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C., have expanded Medicaid (with Alaska set to expand its program next month). But the report warns that “more than eight million low-income adults and families below the [federal poverty level] will continue to lack access to affordable health care coverage solely because their states have not increased access to Medicaid.”
Another area of progress is expanding access to palliative care. “Palliative care is essential to achieving the goal of comprehensive, cost-effective care that improves patient satisfaction and health outcomes,” the report reads. According to ACS CAN, 10 states in 2015 met the organization’s benchmark for increasing access to palliative care, double the number as in 2014.
However, ACS CAN warns that funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs is troublingly low—with just seven states having adequate funding. According to the report, investing in prevention and cessation programs could save lives as well as help reduce health care costs associated with the use of tobacco, which in 2015 are projected to reach $170 billion (ACS CAN release, 8/6; Buck, Sacramento Bee, 8/5; ACS CAN report, 8/6).
Original article: https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2015/08/11/how-does-your-state-rate-in-the-fight-against-cancer