Treatment for tobacco use works. Counseling and medication are proven effective for increasing quit rates . It is one of the most cost-effective benefits that can be provided by health care plans. The Affordable Care Act had classified tobacco treatment as an essential health benefit to ensure that this life saving treatment would be covered by insurance plans; however, with loopholes and unsupported Medicaid expansion, tobacco dependence treatments continue to be appalling under-covered. This is disproportionately the case for seniors and Medicaid recipients who are more likely to be affected by tobacco caused illness.
A new bill has been proposed in Congress ‘Quit Because of COVID’. The bill would expand tobacco cessation coverage to all Medicaid beneficiaries during the COVID 19 health emergency. This should be a ‘no-brainer’. Unfortunately it is not. As you all know, stopping smoking is the best single thing that a person can do for their health. Stopping will also make smokers less susceptible to COVID infection, and less vulnerable to the health problems caused by COVID. Medicaid coverage for tobacco treatment will save lives and save health care costs. I encourage you to use your voice to support this sensible proposal.