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Medicaid programs vary in coverage of preventive care, report says
Date:7/8/2013

WASHINGTON, DCExisting Medicaid beneficiaries have largely been left out of the health reform movement when it comes to preventive services that can ward off cancer, heart disease and other potentially deadly diseases, according to a new study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS).

The study, which appears in the July issue of Health Affairs, notes that under the Affordable Care Act most private insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid expansion programs are required by law to cover a full range of crucial preventive services such as screening tests for colorectal cancer, high blood cholesterol, HIV infection, and diet counseling that can prevent obesity. But state Medicaid plans are not required to cover such care for adults already enrolled in Medicaidand this report suggests that those adults will not have access to the full range of preventive services.

"Preventive services save lives by detecting diseases before they can progress," says lead author Sara Wilensky, PhD, JD, special services faculty for undergraduate education in the Department of Health Policy at SPHHS. "Why should some Medicaid beneficiaries be left out when it comes to coverage for this kind of care?" Screening mammograms, colonoscopies, cholesterol screenings and other preventive services are aimed at staving off health problems early on rather than trying to provide costly health care for established and hard-to-treat disorders, she said.

Wilensky and her co-author Elizabeth Gray, JD, a research associate at SPHHS, reviewed Medicaid policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia from June 2012 through November 2012. The initial review looked at all publically available information on coverage of preventive services. After that first review, the researchers then contacted state Medicaid officials to fill in any missing information about coverage for this population.

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Contact: Kathy Fackelmann
kfackelmann@gwu.edu
202-994-8354
George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Source:Eurekalert

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