CHEYENNE, Wyo.—The Wyoming Senate is set to consider House Bill 162 to increase access to Medicaid for an estimated 25,000 low-income, uninsured Wyoming residents. The bill passed the House last week, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, and the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), urge the Senate to follow suit and pass this lifesaving legislation.
This year, more than 3,000 Wyoming residents will be diagnosed with cancer and many will be uninsured. Access to affordable and comprehensive care is essential to detect, treat and survive cancer.
"It’s important to prevent cancer or catch it very early when it can be treated easily. So many times, families who don’t have insurance avoid getting the care they need for preventive measures or timely early detection screenings that could save lives," said Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., FACS, FASCO, chair of the board of the Association for Clinical Oncology and board member for the American Cancer Society. A Wyoming native, Dr. Bertagnolli is also a cattle rancher near Boulder, Wyoming.
Individuals enrolled in Medicaid have cancer detected earlier than people without insurance and have access to timely and appropriate treatment and care that reduces death and suffering from the disease. Mortality rates for people diagnosed with breast, lung and colorectal cancer have been reduced in expansion states compared to non-expansion states[i],[ii]. Additionally, Medicaid expansion was associated with improved screening rates for colorectal, prostate and cervical cancer.[iii]
State economies, hospitals and health systems, and provider networks have become stronger, and Medicaid expansion has increased personal incomes and state revenues by creating and protecting jobs. States that fully expanded Medicaid eligibility saw rates of uninsured individuals decrease, reducing uncompensated health care costs. Hospitals are 84% less likely to close in states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility,[iv] and Affordable Care Act insurance Marketplace premiums are about 7% lower than in non-expansion states,[v] showing expansion’s impact on the entirety of the health care system.
"It’s a fallacy to believe someone saves money when patients don’t have health insurance. When someone goes to a county hospital and gets care without insurance, taxpayers absorb the cost because they support the hospital through taxes," said Banu E. Symington, M.D., MACP, Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, Hematology and Oncology, in Rock Springs. "We’re kicking the ball down the road. Outcomes worsen as more patients die from cancer and their care is more expensive than it would be with early detection."
"More than 33,000 Wyoming residents live with cancer at some stage of treatment or survivorship. Preserving access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage for low-income adults and families is one of the most critical ways our lawmakers can successfully reduce cancer rates and save lives," said R.J. Ours, Wyoming and Colorado government relations director for ACS CAN.
At this critical moment, comprehensive and affordable health care coverage has never been more important. The COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn has led to countless residents losing jobs, income and employer-sponsored health insurance. For those newly uninsured, coverage through Medicaid could be lifesaving.
ACS CAN and ASCO call on the Senate to pass House Bill 162 and increase access to Medicaid to reduce cancer incidence and mortality in Wyoming. Without insurance, cancers go undetected, treatment is unattainable and survivorship remains out of reach.
View videos with Dr. Bertagnolli and Dr. Symington on the importance of Medicaid expansion and its impact on Wyoming cancer patients.
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.
About the Association for Clinical Oncology
The Association for Clinical Oncology (the Association) is a 501 (c)(6) organization that represents nearly 45,000 oncology professionals who care for people living with cancer. Established by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (the Society) in 2019, the Association works to ensure that all individuals with cancer have access to high quality and equitable care; that the cancer care delivery system supports optimal cancer care; and that our nation supports robust federal funding for research on the prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Learn more at www.ascoassociation.org and follow us on Twitter at @ASCO.
[i] Zerhouni YA, Trinh QD, Lipsitz S, et al. Effect of Medicaid Expansion on Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates. Dis Colon Rectum. 2019;62(1):97-103. doi:10.1097/DCR.0000000000001260
[ii] Hendryx M, Luo J. Increased Cancer Screening for Low-income Adults Under the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion. Med Care. 2018 Nov;56(11):944-949. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000984. PMID: 30199428.
[iv]Lindrooth, RC, Perraillon, MC, Hardy, RY, et al. Understanding the relationship between Medicaid expansions and hospital closures. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37(1):111–120
[v]ASPE: Medicaid Expansion Lowers Marketplace Premiums, " Health Affairs Blog, August 26, 2016.DOI: 10.1377/hblog20160826.056278