The Lead

Report: 37,000+ cancer diagnoses made because of Pa.’s Medicaid expansion

By: and - February 8, 2019 11:17 am

(Courtesy Pa. Department of Human Services)

It’s been four years since Gov. Tom Wolf expanded Medicaid access to low-income adults.

Since then, 1.4 million people have been covered, and Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate has fallen to 5.5 percent. That’s the lowest in the commonwealth’s history, state Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said Friday.

During a Capitol news conference, the agency released an updated report showing the effect of the expansion, from a 29 percent decrease in unpaid costs to medical providers to 37,000-plus diagnoses of cancer. In 2017 alone, more than 54,000 women were screened for breast cancer under the expansion, and 1,598 were diagnosed as a result.

Miller also used the opportunity to reiterate the Wolf administration’s opposition to work requirements, which are favored by many legislative Republicans.

Based on a study by the University of Pennsylvania, she said roughly 90,000 people would be affected — many who are “older and sicker” than the rest of the population. More than a quarter have a chronic health condition, and another 20 percent are dealing with addiction.

“This is not about opposition to work,” she said. “We want all people to achieve a better quality of life and not be caught in poverty.”

But work requirements wouldn’t automatically give people that better life, she said. Instead, they could trap people in a cycle of low-wage jobs or “jeopardize access to health care completely.”

The department also released a “data dashboard” visualizing the impact of the expansion.

Check it out here.

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Sarah Anne Hughes
Sarah Anne Hughes

Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes covers the governor and Pennsylvania's agencies. Before joining the Capital-Star, she was the state capitol reporter for Billy Penn and The Incline, and a 2018 corps member for Report for America. She was previously managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor-in-chief of DCist, and a national blogger for The Washington Post.