4.2.12. Levine Abstract. The role of federal legislation on breast cancer disparities After the Medicare program began to reimburse providers for screening mammography, mortality from breast cancer among US elderly began to fall. However, rates fell more rapidly among whites, and racial disparities widened. Interestingly, disparities did not widen uniformly across the US. We hypothesize that Medicare law inadvertently favors acquisition of screening mammography services by whites since it defines medical assistance as a cash benefit to pay providers regardless of the extent to which cash is the primary barrier to service acquisition. We propose to use the observed geographic variability in mortality disparities to address this hypothesis. We shall obtain large national samples of Medicare data and SEER-linked Medicare claims data to test the following sub-hypotheses: H-l: Regional and state level characteristics will have a significant effect on mammography utilization after adjusting for individual factors. H-2: The effect of regional and state level characteristics on mammography utilization will be different for African American and White women. H-3: The region having the greatest equitability for screening mammography utilization will be more likely to have programs in place aiming to increase mammography utilization and reduce disparities. H-4: Relative to places with moderate to high levels of success, failing places will be more likely to have low survival from breast cancer, and greater percentage increase in racial disparity in survival over time. H-5: Relative to places that are failing or have moderate to high screening mammography utilization, exceptionally successful places will be more likely to have high survival from breast cancer, and to have greater percentage reduction in racial disparity in survival over time. We believe there are compelling reasons to address the proposed hypotheses using alternative means as soon as possible: (a) thousands of deaths from breast cancer among the elderly may have already occurred or will occur because of unintended, adverse effects traceable to Medicare's definition of medical assistance as cash to pay providers;(b) breast cancer may be the tip of the iceberg, particularly with the advent of new programs to provide cash for prescription drugs as part of Medicare;and (c) there may be wider implications as regards the observed declines[2] in US position relative to other industrialized nations for life expectancy and other key measures. The project also proposes reasonable means for obtaining preliminary answers that will be useful for policy makers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-EMNR-B)
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Meharry Medical College
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