The American Lung Association calls on states to fill in the gaps

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 (Last Updated: 11/10/2010)

TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- With the passage of the federal health care overall legislation, millions of Americans will get help to quit smoking, but it may take a state-by-state effort to reach everyone who needs treatment, according to an American Lung Association (ALA) report, "Helping Smokers Quit: State Cessation Coverage 2010."

The ALA points out that, while the federal law requires Medicaid to cover cessation treatment for pregnant women, that population makes up fewer than one million of the approximately 58 million individuals on Medicaid. The federal law also requires that most private health plans cover tobacco cessation treatment, but the government has yet to issue guidance on what they must cover.

The report suggests that states can fill in these gaps by ensuring that all adults enrolled in Medicaid have access to smoking cessation treatment, and by requiring all private carriers to provide coverage for all smoking cessation treatments. The report identifies states that have already made strides in helping smokers quit, and urges others to follow suit, as smokers face more anti-smoking laws and restrictions and increasing tobacco prices.

"With federal health care reform taking effect, states have a historic opportunity today to ensure that all smokers have easy access to treatments that can help them quit," Charles D. Connor, ALA president and CEO, said in a statement. "When it comes to quit-smoking treatments that save lives, it's crucial that state policymakers close the coverage gap. The federal government has gone a long way to address the problem, but much more can be done."

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Specialties Hematology & Oncology

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