A new report issued by the American Lung Association testifies that states are not doing enough to help smokers quit. The Lung Association is calling on policymakers to fix this during the health care reform process by providing full coverage of clinically proven smoking cessation treatments for all smokers.
The report, “Helping Smokers Quit: State Cessation Coverage 2009,” advocates for a national prevention and wellness strategy that targets reducing tobacco use by helping smokers quit and preventing them from starting.
"Helping smokers across the country quit must be an integral part of any reformed health care system," said American Lung Association president and chief executive officer Charles D. Connor. "Policy makers at the federal and state levels have a responsibility right now to ensure that the nearly 46 million smokers in this country have the help they need to quit."
The report provides an overview of smoking cessation services and treatments offered in each state by public and private health care plans, which follows:
– Six states provide comprehensive smoking cessation coverage for Medicaid recipients (Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, and Pennsylvania).
– Five states provide such coverage to state employees (Illinois, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and New Mexico).
The Lung Association goes on to recommend that private insurance plans also offer comprehensive cessation coverage, and urges states to require all insurance companies to cover these treatments. Currently, seven states (Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Rhode Island) have such requirements.
According to the Lung Association, this lack of comprehensive cessation coverage leaves smokers without clinically proven treatment options when they want to quit.
"All public and private health care plans should fully cover all FDA approved tobacco cessation treatments recommended by federal clinical practice guidelines," said Connor. "The American Lung Association urges Congress and the President to ensure all smokers are provided with comprehensive coverage for cessation treatments in any health care reform proposal that becomes law."
Comprehensive coverage includes providing easy access to the seven cessation medications and three forms of counseling recommended to treat nicotine addiction by the US Department of Health and Human Services, according the Lung Association.