Medicaid expansion and palliative care for advanced-stage liver cancer

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan


Background: Medicaid expansion (ME) has contributed to transforming the United States healthcare system. However, its effect on palliative care of primary liver cancers remains unknown. This study aimed to evaluate the association between ME and the receipt of palliative treatment in advanced-stage liver cancer.
Methods: Patients diagnosed with stage IV hepatocellular carcinoma or intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma were identified from the National Cancer Database and divided into pre-expansion (2010-2013) and postexpansion (2015-2019) cohorts. Logistic regression identified predictors of palliative treatment. Difference-in-difference (DID) analysis assessed changes in palliative care use between patients living in ME states and patients living in non-ME states.
Results: Among 12,516 patients, 4582 (36.6%) were diagnosed before expansion, and 7934 (63.6%) were diagnosed after expansion. Overall, rates of palliative treatment increased after ME (18.1% [pre-expansion] vs 22.3% [postexpansion]; P < .001) and are more pronounced among ME states. Before expansion, only cancer type and education attainment were associated with the receipt of palliative treatment. Conversely, after expansion, race, insurance, location, cancer type, and ME status (odds ratio [OR], 1.23; 95% CI, 1.06-1.44; P = .018) were all associated with palliative care. Interestingly, the odds were higher if treatment involved receipt of pain management (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.23-2.43; P = .006). Adjusted DID analysis confirmed increased rates of palliative treatment among patients living in ME states relative to non-ME states (DID, 4.4%; 95% CI, 1.2-7.7; P = .008); however, racial disparities persist (White, 5.6; 95% CI, 1.4-9.8; P = .009; minority, 2.6; 95% CI, -2.5 to 7.6; P = .333).
Conclusion: The implementation of ME contributed to increased rates of palliative treatment for patients residing in ME states after expansion. However, racial disparities persist even after ME, resulting in inequitable access to palliative care.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery