Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Statement: 100,000 Lives Could Be Saved If Health Insurance Covered Smoking Cessation
WASHINGTON, March 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a statement by Matthew L. Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
A new study released today shows that if all public and private health insurance were to cover smoking cessation products and services for their customers, 100,000 fewer people would die from smoking-caused disease within the next 20 years. That is almost the entire population of Peoria, Illinois. Just adding a simple benefit to health insurance could save an entire city.
Currently, many private health insurance companies, the federal Medicare program and the federal-state Medicaid program, fail to provide adequate coverage for smoking cessation. Coverage of smoking cessation has been shown to reduce health care costs to insurance companies by increasing the numbers of smokers who succeed in quitting and reducing the incidence of smoking-caused disease.
Currently, there is legislation, S. 854 introduced by U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Bob Graham (D-FL) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), in the U.S. Senate to require state Medicaid programs to cover smoking cessation products and services and add counseling services to the Medicare program. The new Medicaid coverage is particularly important because a majority of pregnant smokers in the United States are on Medicaid, and helping these women quit will improve both their health and the health of their babies while reducing taxpayer costs under Medicaid.
This study should serve as a wake-up call to Members of Congress to quickly enact such legislation. The message is clear: this is not an esoteric debate, but a life or death decision for 100,000 Americans.