Differing State Medicaid Policies Affect Cancer Screening Rates

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A recent study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that state-specific insurance reimbursement policies have an impact on screening and early detection of cancer.

Although the federal government provides screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer through its Medicaid programs, few studies have investigated whether or not these services are actually utilized by eligible patients.

Prior studies suggested that Medicaid users were less likely to undergo cancer screening than individuals with private health insurance. These studies also showed that Medicaid patients were more likely to present with advanced stages of cancer than patients with private health insurance.

Although the federal government sets reimbursement and eligibility requirements, there is substantial freedom in the states to determine their own Medicaid policies. This results in varying policy differences across the states. The CDC study, published last week in Cancer intended to explore the impact of these differences.

The researchers discovered that in states providing higher Medicaid reimbursements for physician visits, Medicaid patients were more likely to receive screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer. This finding suggests that increasing Medicaid reimbursements could increase the number of health care providers who order cancer screening test, thus increasing patient access to them.

Each state's individual reimbursement policy is an important factor in state colon cancer screening rates, and can have a huge impact on the number of lives saved through screening.

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Topics: Colon Cancer News

  1. Michael T. Halpern, Melissa A. Romaire, Susan G. Haber, Florence K. Tangka, Susan A. Sabatino, and David Howard. Impact of state-specific Medicaid reimbursement and eligibility policies on receipt of cancer screening. CANCER, August 2014 DOI: 10.1002/cncr.28704