The United Health Foundation has committed $2.5 million to the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) to support increased breast cancer screening and genetic testing for high-risk women, men and their families. The partnership will establish a breast cancer genetic testing and screening pilot program at five Michigan community health centers to increase patient education and testing rates, and enhance transitions of care through improved technology, community partnerships and data analysis.
The three-year partnership will support staff training across the pilot sites, provide access to genetic counselors and care managers and enable partnerships with health systems to implement referrals and tracking of newly diagnosed patients.
“One of the most crucial things we can do to prevent and treat breast cancer is raise awareness and expand access to health care, cancer screenings and genetic testing,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This partnership will make an enormous difference for Michiganders everywhere who have a history of cancer in their families. I am grateful to the United Health Foundation for its generous support and partnership with the Michigan Primary Care Association. I will continue to work closely with everyone who wants to protect and expand access to health care in our state.”
“Genetic testing in combination with genetic counselors and care managers has proven successful in the early detection and prevention of breast cancer,” said Dennis Mouras, chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan – Michigan. “Together with the Michigan Primary Care Association, we can help provide increased access to testing and screening to detect breast cancer earlier for better health outcomes.”
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women has a chance of developing breast cancer in the United States. Michigan is expected to have more than 8,800 new cases of breast cancer and more than 1,380 deaths from the disease this year.
“Annual screenings and routine preventive care are crucial to finding and diagnosing conditions including breast cancer,” said Dennis Litos, interim chief executive officer, Michigan Primary Care Association. “We thank the United Health Foundation for its generous support in ensuring our community health centers can screen additional patients and save lives across Michigan.”
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many elective procedures were placed on hold, including cancer screenings. A study published recently in “Breast Cancer Research and Treatment” found 44% of respondents said they experienced delays in care, with the leading type of postponement being routine or follow-up clinic appointments.
“Many routine and annual screening appointments have been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief Medical Executive and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “As we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, it’s important to remember that while we must take precautions to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also crucial we seek important medical care and regular screenings that can detect cancer before symptoms appear.”
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.
About Michigan Primary Care Association
MPCA is the voice of community health centers that provide primary and preventive health care to more than 709,000 patients in rural and urban communities across Michigan. MPCA advocates to influence and advance health policy in Lansing and Washington, D.C., and offers operational support and training to health centers to enhance the delivery of integrated care inclusive of primary care, dental, vision and behavioral health. MPCA’s goal is to get ALL people in Michigan the proper health care they need. For more information, please visit www.mpca.net.