If President Donald Trump succeeds in killing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, he will be effectively sentencing many cancer patients to death because new studies reveal the landmark law has dramatically improved cancer outcomes in the years since it went into effect.
Trump’s Department of Justice is currently urging federal courts to strike down the entire law after a judge in Texas ruled it unconstitutional because Congress repealed the individual mandate.
And with conservatives as the clear majority on the Supreme Court, it would be up to Chief Justice John Roberts to be the swing vote, a role he played when the high court upheld the law in 2012.
Killing Obamacare would be a huge risk for Republicans as the 2020 Election approaches. After all, healthcare is the issue that crushed them in 2018 as Democrats took back the House and several governorships in a blue wave.
Obamacare also continues to gain in popularity, especially among those with pre-existing conditions and those with low incomes who finally have the health insurance they need.
And when defenders of the law go to court, they can present two studies that were unveiled at the American Society of Clinical Oncological annual meeting in Chicago this week that show Obamacare actually improved cancer outcomes among women and people of color.
“Having health insurance plays a major role in whether or not a woman has access to care providers who can monitor symptoms and act on those symptoms if necessary,” Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics Dr. Anna Jo Smith, who led the study, said.
According to Agence France-Presse:
The researchers used data from the National Cancer Database to look at the years before (2004-2009) and after (2011-2014) the passing of the ACA.
They looked at the stage of the diagnosis and the time to treatment for the 21 to 64 age group, and compared it to those 65 and older, which was used as a control group because they had access to publicly funded Medicare before and after.
They found that there was a relative gain of 1.7 percent in early-stage diagnosis and a 1.6 percent improvement in receiving treatment within 30 days.
“While a 1.7% difference in being diagnosed earlier may not sound very large, for the 22,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States annually, it means that close to 400 more women could be diagnosed at an early, treatable stage,” the researchers wrote in a statement.
In a second study, researchers found that Medicaid expansion under Obamacare resulted in the timeliness of people of color being treated for cancer compared to white people becoming equal.
“Prior to Medicaid expansion, African American patients were 4.8 percentage points less likely to receive timely treatment as compared with white patients,” the researchers wrote.
After the ACA was passed, 6.1 percent more blacks received timely treatment as well as 2.1 percent of whites, making the differences between the races statistically insignificant.
“Many studies have described racial disparities that exist in cancer care, but few have shown what types of interventions improve health equity — we now have evidence that Medicaid expansion can mitigate certain health disparities,” said study author Amy J. Davidoff at the Yale School of Public Health.
Axing Obamacare in the face of this success would be a huge mistake by Republicans, who already know that their assault on healthcare is going to be used as a weapon against them in 2020. Killing the law would hurt women and minorities, two major groups of voters that can bury them if they cause the few who remain loyal to the party to abandon it. The law is clearly helping millions of Americans. Repealing it would not only kill people who need it most, it would be political suicide.
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