American Lung Association Applauds Move by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to Cover Tobacco Cessation Services by Phone under Medicaid Program

Washington, D.C. (June 24, 2011)

Paul G. Billings, American Lung Association Vice President of National Policy and Advocacy, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ announcement to partially reimburse state quitlines for tobacco cessation services provided by phone to Medicaid recipients:

“The American Lung Association is very pleased with today’s decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to allow state Medicaid programs to cover telephone counseling to help smokers quit, also known as quitlines. This will make it easier for states to provide evidence-based treatments to people on Medicaid who smoke. This is absolutely crucial because the smoking rate among Medicaid recipients is more than 60 percent higher than the rate in the general population.

“This important decision comes on the heels of the announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this week of the new graphic warning labels that will appear on cigarette packs starting in fall 2012. The 1-800-QUIT-NOW number that connects to every state’s quitline will appear on those new cigarette package warning labels, so this announcement is very timely. It is now essential for states to take action, and include tobacco cessation services by phone in their state Medicaid plans. Telephone counseling is an important element of comprehensive tobacco cessation coverage, which also includes group and individual counseling, and medications to help smokers quit.”

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