Status in the States Launches with Look at Kentucky: Medicaid Expansion Aimed at Curbing Cancer, Lifting Economic Activity

Evidence-Based Oncology begins its 'Status in the States' series, which examines how healthcare reform will affect cancer care in different parts of the country. The first installment looks at Kentucky, where the Governor has taken aim at a history of tobacco use and high cancer mortality rates.

Status in the States Launches with Look at KentuckyMedicaid Expansion Aimed at Curbing Cancer, Lifting Economic Activity

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PLAINSBORO, N.J. — Pitching healthcare reform as a moral imperative is nothing new. Promoting it as a tool for economic development, as a way to make a state’s workers more attractive to prospective employers, moves healthcare from being a handout to an investment.

At least that’s what Gov. Steve Beshear hopes, as he moves ahead with his decision to expand Medicaid to 308,000 new recipients. Announced at an emotional news conference in Frankfort, Ky., on May 9, 2013, Beshear claimed the move would bring $608 million in new healthcare spending to the commonwealth, create 17,000 jobs, and over time lift Kentucky from the bottom of such lists as number of cancer deaths and percentage of adults who smoke.

Evidence-Based Oncology, a supplement to The American Journal of Managed Care, profiled Kentucky’s approach to cancer care under healthcare reform in the first installment of its “Status in the States,” series, which will take turns looking at states that are participating in the Medicaid expansion and those that are not, and how cancer care will be affected.

“We launched this series with Kentucky because its leaders were candid about the problem they face with cancer,” said Brian Haug, publisher of Evidence-Based Oncology. While the story was being reported, the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center won NCI designation, making it eligible for new funding and expanded clinical trials, which center officials say will make breakthrough cancer treatments available to Kentucky residents.

The jury is out on whether Kentucky’s rapid changeover to managed care for its Medicaid population will improve survival rates for cancer patients, which officials acknowledge are the worst in the country. The rapid transition throughout 2012 received harsh criticism, and commonwealth officials do not dispute that it was a difficult process. Yet Beshear hopes that a proactive system that brings people in for cancer screenings will alter Kentucky’s history of catching the disease too late to do anything for patients.

“By the time we reach 2020, I believe we will have seen such a measurable impact on prevention of disease, management of chronic health problems, and overall health of our workforce that to withdraw or shrink from Medicaid would be unthinkable,” he told Evidence-Based Oncology.

For the full article, click here. For companion coverage of health care speakers at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Business Summit, click here.

CONTACT: Mary Caffrey (609) 716-7777 x 144

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