Disparities In The Use Of Screening Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging Persist In Louisiana After The Affordable Care Act: A Question Of Access, Policy, Institutional Support, Or Something Else?

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Background: Louisiana continues to have one of the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the nation, and Black women are disproportionally affected. Louisiana has made advances in improving access to breast cancer screening through the expansion of Medicaid. There remains, however, broad underuse of advanced imaging technology such as screening breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particularly for Black women. Methods: Breast MRI has been proven to be very sensitive for the early detection of breast cancer in women at high risk. MRI is more sensitive than mammography for aggressive, invasive breast cancer types, which disproportionally affect Black women. Here the authors identify potential barriers to breast MRI screening in Black women, propose strategies to address disparities in access, and advocate for specific recommendations for change. Results: Cost was identified as one of the greatest barriers to screening breast MRI. The authors propose implementation of cost-saving, abbreviated protocols to address cost along with lobbying for further expansion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to include coverage for screening breast MRI. In addition, addressing gaps in communication and knowledge and facilitating providers’ ability to readily identify women who might benefit from MRI could be particularly impactful for high-risk Black women in Louisiana communities. Conclusions: Since the adoption of the ACA in Louisiana, Black women have continued to have disproportionally high breast cancer mortality rates. This persistent disparity provides evidence that additional change is needed. This change should include exploring innovative ways to make advanced imaging technology such as breast MRI more accessible and expanding research to specifically address community and culturally specific barriers.

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