GW Researchers Receive Grant from Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to Investigate Causes of Inequitable Access to Blood Cancer Treatment and Care

July 10, 2024

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Logo

RYE BROOK, N.Y. (July 10, 2024)– The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Equity in Access Research Program has collectively awarded nearly $6.5 million to health services researchers working to uncover and ultimately address the social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that stand in the way of blood cancer patients and survivors accessing the high-quality treatment and care they need throughout their lives. 

Researchers Anushree Vichare, Clese Erikson and Qian “Eric” Luo from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University are among the recipients of the research funding.

LLS expanded Equity in Access in 2024 by seeking proposals that would increase understanding of the impact of health insurance on access to care and implement and evaluate interventions designed to improve therapeutic clinical trial enrollment, particularly among underrepresented groups. 

"While cancer can impact anyone, the unfortunate reality is that equitable access to high-quality, affordable treatment and care is out of reach for many, and no other organization is funding research specifically on equity in access for blood cancer patients and survivors,” said Eric Cooks, Senior Director, Equity in Access Research Program at LLS. “As a leading cancer nonprofit , LLS is committed to transforming lives through our holistic approach across research, patient support, and advocacy which includes advancing health equity and eliminating health disparities. This research is a first step toward helping all patients and survivors achieve meaningful access to the treatment and care they need when they need it."

Vichare, Erikson and Luo will use national-level Medicaid claims data over eight years (2016-2023) linked to healthcare utilization information to observe telehealth provision by hematology oncologists, with a focus on identifying whether there are differences in telehealth uptake among vulnerable populations such as racial/ethnic minoritized groups and those living in rural areas. The study will also examine how recent legislative changes in telehealth coverage and Medicaid payments impact telehealth access. By including patients covered by Medicaid, the findings will provide first-known estimates on patterns of telehealth utilization by these patients and inform strategies to improve telehealth access through policy reforms.

Findings from the study may ultimately lead to better health outcomes by identifying steps healthcare systems, providers, insurers and policymakers can take to increase equitable access to quality and affordable blood cancer treatment (including treatment on a clinical trial).