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Medicaid Reimbursements May Affect Cancer Screening Rates Among Beneficiaries

Study led by UA College of Public Health's Dr. Michael Halpern, medical scientist and health policy researcher, published this week in the journal Cancer.

associate professor and chair of the public health policy and management section

A recent study has found that in states with higher Medicaid payments for office visits, Medicaid beneficiaries were more likely to be screened for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings may help policy makers address barriers to access to care and improve the use of recommended cancer-screening services.

Michael Halpern, at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and his former colleagues at RTI International, analyzed 2007 Medicaid data from 46 states and Washington, D.C.

Although Medicaid is a joint state-federal government health insurance program, each state sets the policies for its own Medicaid program within requirements set by the federal government. This includes setting how much providers are paid for health-care services and who is allowed to enroll in Medicaid. To determine whether state Medicaid eligibility and reimbursement policies affect receipt of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening among Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Few studies have examined how state-specific differences in Medicaid policies might affect use of preventive-care services, particularly for early detection of cancer,” said Dr. Halpern. “Our study was able to compare differences in cancer screening for Medicaid beneficiaries in almost all states, providing a broad, national picture of the effects of state-level Medicaid policies on receipt of these critical medical care services among a large group of underserved individuals.”

Dr. Halpern has more than 20 years of experience in health services research and policy analysis, including evaluating patterns of medical care, quality of care, comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, access to care, and disparities. His research includes analyses of patient outcomes, medical treatment patterns and costs using Medicare, Medicaid and other claims databases and national health-care surveys; assessments of patient symptoms, satisfaction and quality of life; examinations of health care provider shortages and policies to facilitate team-based care; and program evaluations for interventions to improve preventive services, access to care and quality of care.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1tOc4l9 Cancer, online August 25, 2014.

The University of Arizona