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Obamacare Boosts Breast Cancer Screening Among Poor, Study Finds

Expansion of Medicaid coverage is improving access to mammograms

More poor women are being screened for breast cancer due to expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a new study finds.

According to HealthDay, states now have the option to expand Medicaid coverage of breast cancer screening to people younger than 65 years of age whose income is up to 133% of the federal poverty level. So far, 23 states have opted for that expanded coverage and six others are implementing alternatives, according to the new report.

California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington state, and Washington, D.C., were among the first to adopt and implement the expanded coverage, and did so by 2011, the study authors said. In those states, breast cancer screening rates among low-income women rose 25% between 2008 and 2012, the study found. The findings were to be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

"While increased use of screening mammography has significantly contributed to improved detection of breast cancer, substantial disparities in breast cancer screening exist among populations in the country," study author Dr. Soudabeh Fazeli Dehkordy, of St. John Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, said in a society news release. "Understanding the impact of Medicaid expansion on breast cancer screening rates in early expander states can provide valuable insights that can be very useful to both state and federal policymakers when considering key health policy."

"Adoption of Medicaid expansion by more states can result in considerable improvement of disparities in breast cancer screening, leading to better health outcomes for all women across the United States," Fazeli Dehkordy concluded.

Research presented at meetings is viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay, November 30, 2015.

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