November 08, 2016
A plan to get Medicaid enrollees more help to quit smoking
BY Clayton Bold, Ph.D.
The American Lung Association and MD Anderson Cancer Center have announced a new partnership aimed at increasing coverage and access to evidence-based tobacco cessation treatments for Medicaid enrollees in seven states.MD Anderson will support the American Lung Association’s education outreach to each state’s officials about the importance of consistent and comprehensive tobacco cessation coverage in state Medicaid programs in order to help the Medicaid population access proven-effective medications and treatment to help smokers quit.
Seven states have been identified for focused efforts and educational support: Arkansas, Louisiana, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Each of these states’ Medicaid programs limit or vary in their tobacco cessation coverage, which can make it challenging for some patients to access quit-smoking tools.
“Tobacco use, which will claim 480,000 American lives this year, continues to disproportionately impact those with lower incomes, leading to greater rates of many types of cancers,” said Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “By increasing access to proven tobacco cessation treatments for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, we will make a significant impact on the cancer problem.”
According to a 2015 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation Treatments and Barriers to Coverage – United States, 2014 -2015,” only 30 states covered all seven tobacco cessation medications. And every state limited treatment options, making it more difficult for patients to access the treatment, and therefore more difficult for smokers to quit.
Increased access to quit smoking treatments will be timely and especially important for the estimated 420,000 Americans who smoke and live in public housing. In anticipation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s final rule making all public housing smoke free, both organizations are committed to ensuring everyone has access to the help they need to quit smoking.
Read more about the partnership in the MD Anderson Newsroom.