Mass screening in low-income populations: The challenges of securing diagnostic and treatment services in a National Cancer Screening Program

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States
Journal of Health Politics Policy and Law (Impact Factor: 1.37). 07/2000; 25(3):451-71. DOI: 10.1215/03616878-25-3-451
Source: PubMed


Funding for many mass screening programs for low-income and uninsured populations provides resources for screening tests, yet only rarely does it provide coverage for necessary follow-up diagnostic and treatment services. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), a federally funded initiative that provides cancer screening to low-income uninsured and underinsured women, covers some diagnostic follow-up tests and no treatment services. We conducted in-depth case studies of seven state programs participating in the NBCCEDP to investigate the strategies and approaches being used to secure diagnostic and treatment services. The results suggest that the program relies on a patchwork of resources--at state and local levels--to provide diagnostic and treatment services. This includes a number of components of local safety nets, all of which are unstable and have uncertain futures. Public health disease-screening initiatives need to reconsider the feasibility of continued reliance on case-by-case appeals to the local safety net for diagnostic follow-up and treatment services.

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    • "The Treatment Act of 2000 was a unique policy move, offering a disease-specific expansion of Medicaid to women screened through a federal program. Support for this expansion was predicated on a framing of the NBCCEDP as an ''unethical'' public health program because it did not cover the costs for treatment for women diagnosed through the program (Lantz et al. 2003; Weisman, 2000). Given that screening without funding for treatment is a common public health practice, the results from this impact analysis of the Treatment Act may provide useful information for discussions of other Medicaid expansions for government disease screening/testing programs. "
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    ABSTRACT: The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is a multifaceted, federal program that provides breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to low-income women, but does not cover the costs of treatment. This study used a fixed-effects, longitudinal time-series research design (from 1995 to 2005) to evaluate the impact of a Medicaid expansion aimed at covering treatment for program clients, enacted via the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000. In summary, the Treatment Act of 2000 had some positive impacts, including a 12.8% decrease in the average number of days to definitive cervical diagnosis for White women. Nonetheless, the Treatment Act also had some negative impacts on the timing of diagnosis and treatment services, including a significant increase in the average time between a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia or cancer and the initiation of treatment for Black and Hispanic women (7-15 days across age groups). The Treatment Act was also associated with a 9% decrease in the probability that Black women would initiate treatment within 60 days of a cervical diagnosis (-.094; 95% confidence interval [CI] -.178 to -.01). As such, although the Treatment Act had no impact on the proportion of clients who initiated breast cancer treatment within 60 days, it reduced the probability that Black women initiated cervical treatment within an accepted benchmark for timely care.
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    Report number: CRSO Working Paper # 590, Affiliation: University of Michigan

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