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LLS Invests in Solutions to Advance Health Equity

LLS Invests in Solutions to Advance Health Equity

(Rye Brook, N.Y., July 15, 2022) - The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is dedicated to ensuring that all blood cancer patients and survivors have access to the care they need, when they need it. But for too many patients, this does not happen.

Some groups of people experience more barriers than others when it comes to getting the right diagnosis and treatment. The challenges faced often are rooted in structural disadvantages or discrimination related to patients' racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, disability, sexual orientation, geographic location or other factors.

"Blood cancer is hard enough for patients and their families, and these obstacles make it even harder," said Gwen Nichols, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at LLS. "That's why LLS created the Equity in Access Research Program. We want to better understand the underlying causes contributing to health disparities and inequities—and to identify solutions we can urge lawmakers and those in the healthcare industry to adopt. Together, we want to put an end to these disparities."

During its first year, the Equity in Access program funded seminal research to better understand how insurance status and type impact access to care for blood cancer patients and survivors.

Today, LLS is announcing the program's first cohort of award recipients— a group of outstanding health services researchers who received more than $1.3 million in combined funding:

  • Xu Ji, Ph.D. and Sharon Castellino, M.D., M.Sc. of Emory University School of Medicine, whose research will provide insight into whether continuous insurance coverage can lead to increased blood cancer survival rates. They also will examine how Medicaid expansion impacts insurance continuity and what it means for children, adolescents and young adults with blood cancers.
    • Stacie Dusetzina, Ph.D. of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Lauren H. Nicholas, Ph.D., M.P.P. of the University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus, whose innovative research will evaluate the financial and health outcomes for individuals selecting different Medicare coverage options and how these outcomes vary by the presence and timing of a cancer diagnosis. The goal of this work is to identify opportunities to improve plan selection and reduce inequities in cancer care and outcomes.
    • F. Lennie Wong, Ph.D. of the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, whose novel research will shed light on how insurance coverage and Medicaid expansion contribute to racial differences in multiple myeloma treatment patterns and their effects on survival.

Findings will identify steps that policymakers can take to reduce health disparities in blood cancer patients. And LLS will work to transform these recommendations into state and federal policy proposals that its Office of Public Policy will work to implement.

The new program is just one avenue LLS is pursuing as part of its longstanding commitment to health equity. LLS staff and volunteers continue to advocate for changes in the law that minimize barriers to care for patients and promote equitable care. For example, we recently helped increase clinical trial access for more than 41 million people – including underserved populations – through adoption of the Clinical Treatment Act. And we continue to work to expand insurance coverage to patients stuck in the Medicaid coverage gap, 60% of whom are people of color.

LLS issued the second Equity in Access Research Program Request for Proposals (RFP) on July 6. We encourage you to share the opportunity with researchers who may be interested in applying. More information can be found here.

LLS proudly and gratefully acknowledges the leadership support of Royalty Pharma and the following companies for their support of the Equity in Access Research Program and other initiatives focused on reducing healthcare disparities in blood cancer care and treatment:  AMGEN Oncology, Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK and Takeda Oncology. 

LLS is steadfast in its commitment to serving underrepresented communities through two more programs—the LLS IMPACT Research Grants initiative and Myeloma Link—which aim to promote health equity in clinical and community settings.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is a global leader in the fight against cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has regional offices throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the LLS Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., ET.

For additional information visit Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Kristin Hoose
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
(914) 821-8973