American Lung Association calls state’s tobacco-cessation benefit inadequate now that Medicaid is under managed care

Kentucky added a robust tobacco cessation benefit to its Medicaid program, only to lose much of it in 2011 by putting the program under managed care by insurance companies, the American Lung Association notes in its annual report. Not only do their plans offer fewer treatments, explained the report, but information was confusing to patients and healthcare providers alike. The report also notes that the state — which is not alone in this — offers its smokers who desire to quit inadequate access to medications and counseling.

Robert Preidt of HealthDay reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services late last month published a proposed rule that requires tobacco cessation as an essential health benefit under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The lung association report how states could put that rule to maximum use.
“Giving all smokers access to a comprehensive cessation benefits is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” Billings said. “The bottom line is that quitting smoking saves lives and saves money.” One recent study, reports Preidt, showed that providing smokers with help to quit has a three-to-one return on investment, meaning $3 is saved for every for $1 spent. (Read more)

To see more about how Kentucky’s tobacco cessation coverage rates, according to the American Lung Association, go here.

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