New Study Finds State Medicaid Expansion Programs Offering Quit Smoking Benefits to Help 3.3 Million Smokers Quit
Medicaid expansion provides opportunity to save lives, reduce healthcare costs
(December 8, 2016) -
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A new study co-authored by the American Lung Association finds 3.3 million of the 9.4 million adults enrolled in state Medicaid expansion programs smoke cigarettes – a rate significantly higher than people who have private insurance. Despite all Medicaid expansion states covering at least some quit smoking treatment, these smokers are facing barriers to the proven-effective quit smoking tools they need to overcome tobacco addiction.
The first-ever report to examine coverage of preventive services in the expansion population, "State Medicaid Expansion Tobacco Cessation Coverage and Number of Adult Smokers Enrolled in Medicaid Expansion Coverage – United States, 2016" was co-authored by the American Lung Association and published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"Smoking is an addiction and quitting is difficult. We know the most effective way to help smokers quit is through making all proven tobacco cessation methods available," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "As tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, providing quit smoking support to Medicaid expansion enrollees who smoke at much higher rates is an important opportunity to save lives and prevent tobacco-related disease, which would ultimately reduce the nation's healthcare costs."
The report finds that all states that have expanded Medicaid offer at least some tobacco cessation treatments to their expansion population. Other key findings include that nine states (Indiana, Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont) cover all seven Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved quit smoking medications plus individual and group counseling. An additional nineteen states cover the seven medications.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), tobacco cessation is required to be covered as a United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) "A" recommended service, and therefore all Medicaid expansion enrollees should have comprehensive cessation benefit without cost-sharing. This means access without co-pay to all proven-effective tobacco cessation methods to help smokers quit, including FDA-approved quit smoking methods.
To monitor the most recent trends in state Medicaid cessation coverage, the American Lung Association collected data on expansion coverage in the 32 states, including Washington, D.C., that have expanded Medicaid eligibility through the ACA. While ACA might be a federal law, the Medicaid plans are built by state decision makers, and this new study finds that all states with the Medicaid expansion offer some tobacco cessation treatment to help the 3.3 million smokers covered by Medicaid expansion quit. Conversely, for those states that have not expanded Medicaid, there are many smokers who would qualify for Medicaid expansion if their state adopted the expansion, but currently are not able to access these quit smoking resources or other healthcare services.
"States need to do all they can to make it easy for Medicaid expansion enrollees to quit smoking, which will save both lives and healthcare costs. It is extremely concerning that so many states still charge Medicaid expansion enrollees copays for the help they need to quit tobacco," Wimmer said. "Federal law does not allow copays on preventive services for those individuals that qualify for Medicaid expansion."
Today's report indicates a high proportion of individuals on Medicaid expansion smoke. States can help smokers quit by removing barriers such as co-pays to these treatments; encouraging greater awareness among healthcare providers and Medicare expansion enrollees about the tobacco cessation coverage available to them; and monitoring the use of this covered treatment.
To learn more about the study published today, read the fact sheet on Lung.org. The study's lead author is available for media interviews upon request. To arrange an interview or to speak with an expert about lung health, tobacco use and tobacco policies and Medicaid coverage, contact Allison MacMunn 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.