Study reveals state tobacco cessation coverage lackingPublished 5:32pm Monday, December 3, 2012
LANSING — The American Lung Association’s “Helping Smokers Quit: Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2012” report shows that Michigan is lacking in key cessation resources for its citizens at a time when its smoking rates are 16th highest in the country (18.9 percent) and its Medicaid smoking rates are 45 percent, more than twice the rate of the general population.
The report, released this week, also shows the United States is at a tipping point when it comes to policies that help smokers quit. The annual report provides a comprehensive review of each state’s tobacco cessation coverage and an up-to-date look at federal coverage and requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
“Over the next year, key decisions will be made by our state and federal government about whether or not they will help save lives, prevent disease and reduce health costs,” said Shelly Kiser, Director of Advocacy, the American Lung Association in Michigan.
“We know that the vast majority of smokers want to quit, but the complex web of Michigan’s and federal coverage for effective quit-smoking programs and treatments prevents too many from getting the help they need. States and the federal government can reduce the enormous health burden of tobacco use by providing access to these proven interventions.
“Giving all smokers access to a comprehensive cessation benefit is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Michigan needs to consistently provide best practices cessation treatment, including the seven cessation medications and three forms of counseling, to all Medicaid recipients and state employees,” said Kiser. “The bottom line is that quitting smoking saves lives and saves money.”
On Nov. 26, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed rule that requires the Essential Health Benefit coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act to cover preventive services, including tobacco cessation. However, because HHS has not yet defined what insurers must include as part of a tobacco cessation benefit.
Michigan policymakers can now help Michigan smokers quit by including comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits as they implement state health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansions.
“Michigan has an excellent opportunity to help improve the health of its citizens and save taxpayer dollars when it sets up its health insurance exchange,” Kiser said. “It’s essential that it include a comprehensive tobacco cessation benefit as part of the coverage offered under the exchange.”
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The annual health care costs in Michigan due to smoking total $3.4 billion annually.
Providing comprehensive quit-smoking treatments is crucial in saving lives and curbing health costs – one recent study showed providing this help has a 3-to-1 return on investment.