Lung Association Says CDC Report Shows Need For Medicaid Coverage To Help Smokers Quit
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released
today by the American Lung Association:
A report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that last year, 34 states provided some level of Medicaid coverage for low-income people who want to quit smoking. Seventeen states offered no Medicaid coverage at all for tobacco dependence treatments.
"Those 17 states account for 27 percent of the nation's Medicaid population," said John L. Kirkwood, CEO of the American Lung Association. "It is appalling that more than one quarter of our
low-income citizens cannot turn to Medicaid for help in quitting smoking."
"Quitting smoking is the single most important thing any smoker can do to improve their health," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., scientific and medical consultant to the American Lung Association.
"Every smoker in this country, regardless of income, should have access to smoking cessation counseling programs and pharmaceutical
intervention -- including prescription and over-the-counter medications -- that will help them quit."
In 2000, more than 11.5 million smokers were enrolled in the
Medicaid program. Studies show that one of the largest concerns for
low-income smokers who want to quit is how to pay for smoking
cessation medications and counseling programs.
"While we commend those states that provide Medicaid help to
smokers, many need to offer more comprehensive benefits. Some state
Medicaid packages, for example, cover prescription drugs but not
the counseling that gives smokers the support they need to quit and
stay quit," said Kirkwood.
"The 17 states without any coverage at all need to revisit how
they spend their health care dollars. They can save money -- and
lives -- by extending Medicaid coverage to smoking cessation," he
In 1997 and 1998, states entered a multibillion settlement
agreement with the tobacco industry. To date, few of those states
have invested an adequate share of their settlement dollars in
comprehensive smoking prevention and cessation programs.
"Funding Medicaid coverage for cessation services would go a
long way toward fulfilling the promise of those agreements," said
The American Lung Association strongly supports legislation now
pending in Congress to amend the Social Security Act to promote
tobacco cessation coverage under Medicaid. The legislation (S 854)
was introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sam Brownback
According to the CDC, reducing smoking among Medicaid recipients
would save states money by lowering the rates and cost of
tobacco-related disease. For low-income pregnant smokers, reduced
smoking rates could mean fewer low-birthweight babies, who often
require lengthy, costly medical treatment.
The CDC report, "Update on State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco
Dependence Treatments -- United States, 1998 and 2000," published
in the Nov. 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review, can
be found at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5044a3.htm.