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Taking Steps Against Cancer: Access to Care

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mendelsohn99.jpgLast year, MD Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D., proposed 10 steps that can be taken to ensure cancer deaths decrease more rapidly, the ranks of survivors swell, and an even greater number of cancers are prevented in the first place.

This is the ninth in a series of posts on key actions outlined by Mendelsohn:

9. Provide access to cancer care for everyone who lives in the United States.

Insurance coverage: Today, more than 47 million Americans are uninsured, and many others are underinsured for major illnesses like cancer.

The new federal health care reform legislation addresses these issues, but details of care delivery and reimbursement for care must now be worked out. This will take several more years. There is concern that government-subsidized health insurance for low-income Americans will not pay for the costs of delivering care.

Access: Depending on where they live and what they can afford, Americans have unequal access to quality cancer care. Treatment options vary significantly nationwide.

We must find better ways to disseminate the best standards of high quality care from leading medical centers and tertiary care hospitals to widespread community practice throughout the country.

Disparities: Cancer incidence and deaths vary tremendously among ethnic and economic groups in this country. We need to address the causes of disparities in health outcomes and move to eliminate them.

Next: 10. Enhance the value of cancer care and reduce costs.

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