States should help smokers quit

The U.S. health care reform is offering its help for all smokers, who are trying to quit this bad habit, but the states in their turn should inform people about this possibility thus assuring that all smokers have access to smoking cessation programs, according to American Lung Association.

States should help smokers quit

There are two large and quite important areas where the health care leaves significant gaps in helping smokers to get access to smoking cessation programs.

The first gap influences Medicaid recipients. Whereas the new federal law demands cessation programs coverage for pregnant women that take part in Medicaid, which demand applies to more than 1 million out of the 58 million Medicaid recipients. The number of smokers that participate in Medicaid is more than 60% that is bigger than the rate in the general population.

The second gap influences those people who are on insurance plans. The new laws demands the big part of private health plans that constitute 64% of Americans, to cover smoking cessation programs. However, the federal government hasn’t introduced guidance what private insurers this law must cover. Until that happens, insurers will not provide adequate coverage.

As stated lung association, adequate coverage means easy access to at least six medications and three types of counseling, advised by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These are:

  • over-the-counter (patches, medications)
  • prescription (nasal sprays and different inhalers)
  • nicotine replacement procedures (non-nicotine prescription drugs)
  • group and phone counseling

In order to fill these major gaps, states should assure smoking cessation programs to all people that take part in Medicaid and should demand all private health plans to cover all smoking cessation programs.
Recently, eight states adopted special laws and regulations that require smoking cessation coverage in various or all insurance plans. These states are: Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Six states already assure adequate smoking cessation coverage for Medicaid recipients: Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

It was also stated that currently Kentucky accepted funding to cover smoking cessation programs for Medicaid recipients.

Only five states assure adequate smoking cessation coverage to all state employees and dependents: Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota.

“With federal health care reform coming into effect, states have a possibility to assure that all smokers have access to smoking cessation programs that may help them quit this bad habit. This can be called a win-win situation, because quitting smoking not only saves the smokers’ health, but also the health of others.

Allowing all smokers access to an adequate smoking cessation program is the best thing we can do,” Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, stated in the interview.

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