Cessation Coverage

Providing Federal Coverage for Cessation Services

The American Lung Association strongly supports enactment of the recommendations of the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health's National Action Plan on Cessation, which would help millions of Americans quit smoking. Presently, there are over 45 million Americans who smoke, 70 percent of whom say they want to quit. However, 95 percent of unaided, "cold turkey" quit attempts end in relapse. The plan proposed a well-funded national quitline network, a national media campaign, federal coverage of cessation benefits and a smokers' fund to assist people trying to quit.

The American Lung Association advocates for federal and state efforts to provide smoking cessation coverage for Medicaid and Medicare recipients.

Medicaid. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 32.6 percent of adult Medicaid recipients smoke, compared to 22.0 percent of the general population. Currently, few states provide the full range of services needed to help Medicaid smokers quit and some states provide no assistance at all. Not helping these smokers quit is extremely costly to taxpayer-funded Medicaid programs – tobacco related healthcare costs for Medicaid programs averaged $607 million per state in 2004. One major reason why these costs are so high is that the majority of pregnant women who smoke are enrolled in Medicaid. Helping pregnant women quit smoking will decrease the number of low birth weight babies, pre-term deliveries, miscarriages and instances of sudden infant death syndrome and spontaneous abortion.

Medicare. Some recent progress has been made in providing cessation services for Medicare patients. In 2005, Medicare added coverage for smoking cessation counseling for some of its beneficiaries and when Medicare prescription drug benefits went into effect in January of 2006, prescription coverage for cessation drugs.

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Todd Platts (R-PA) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives that would provide coverage for tobacco cessation under Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation is currently pending in committee. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced legislation that would encourage states to provide cessation services to pregnant women.