Obama Administration Delays Necessary Tobacco Cessation Coverage Clarification
Smokers seeking a healthcare plan to help them quit during open enrollment will instead find confusion
(October 27, 2016) - Chicago, IL
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In response to the release of FAQ about Affordable Care Act Implementation on tobacco cessation from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer offers the following statement:
“Quitting smoking is the single most important step an individual can take to improve their health. Smoking is an addiction, and we know that seven out of ten smokers want to quit and need access to proven-effective quit smoking services. The human and economic burden caused by tobacco use is enormous. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States – killing almost 500,000 Americans each year and leading to at least $289 billion in healthcare costs and lost economic productivity.
“Today, the Obama Administration asked questions when the American public needs answers. The September 2015 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force ‘A’ grade affirmed that quitting smoking is one of the most effective things someone can do to improve their health and prevent illness and disease. The Affordable Care Act requires that all such services be covered without cost sharing. Unfortunately, today’s FAQ release fails to provide the answers that patients, providers and insurers need. It means that the current state of confusion will remain, creating additional barriers and burden for those seeking assistance to quit smoking. Making it easier to quit smoking will save lives, and must be a national imperative.
“The American Lung Association is deeply disappointed that the Obama Administration failed to act on the September 2015 U.S. Preventive Service Task Force grade “A” recommendation that stated that all treatment options for tobacco cessation should be offered without barriers. Today’s action further delays the much needed clarity on this issue until the next Administration and misses the 2017 Affordable Care Act open enrollment period.
“Today’s FAQ makes clear that this request for comment does not remove health plans’ responsibility for offering coverage consistent with the USPSTF recommendations, which clearly state that all seven FDA-approved medications and all three forms of counseling are made available to enrollees without cost-sharing and barriers, and that a clinician should consider the patient’s specific medical history.
“Today is a missed opportunity. The Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel recommended access to medications and counseling on all insurance products as a key strategy to prevent cancer. Tobacco cessation also reduces healthcare costs which is vital when so many Americans are facing higher insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. The American Lung Association will continue to work to help all smokers quit and ensure that the promise of access to all proven-effective tobacco cessation preventive services, without cost sharing, is unambiguous.”
For media interested in speaking with an expert about tobacco cessation and lung health, contact Allison MacMunn the American Lung Association at Media@Lung.org or 312-801-7628.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.