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NAQC Newsroom: Research

State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation Treatments and Barriers to Coverage — United States, 2

Tuesday, December 1, 2015  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Jennifer Singleterry, MA; Zach Jump, MA; Anne DiGiulio; Stephen Babb, MPH; Karla Sneegas, MPH; Allison MacNeil, MPH; Lei Zhang, PhD; Kisha-Ann S. Williams
State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation Treatments and Barriers to Coverage — United States, 2014–2015.
MMWR Weekly October 30, 2015 / 64(42);1194-9 

Medicaid enrollees have a cigarette smoking prevalence (30.4%) twice as high as that of privately insured Americans (14.7%), placing them at increased risk for smoking-related disease and death (1). Individual, group, and telephone counseling and seven Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved medications are evidence-based, effective treatments for helping tobacco users quit (2). A Healthy People 2020 objective (TU-8) calls for all state Medicaid programs to adopt comprehensive coverage of these treatments.* However, a previous MMWR report indicated that, although state Medicaid coverage of cessation treatments had improved during 2008–2014, this coverage was still limited in most states (3). To monitor the most recent trends in state Medicaid cessation coverage, the American Lung Association collected data on coverage of, and barriers to, accessing all evidence-based cessation treatments except telephone counseling in state Medicaid programs (for a total of nine treatments) during January 31, 2014–June 30, 2015. As of June 30, 2015, all 50 states covered certain cessation treatments for at least some Medicaid enrollees. During 2014–2015, increases were observed in the number of states covering individual counseling, group counseling, and all seven FDA-approved cessation medications for all Medicaid enrollees; however, only nine states covered all nine treatments for all enrollees. Common barriers to accessing covered treatments included prior authorization requirements, limits on duration, annual limits on quit attempts, and required copayments. Previous research in both Medicaid and other populations indicates that state Medicaid programs could reduce smoking prevalence, smoking-related morbidity, and smoking-related health care costs among Medicaid enrollees by covering all evidence-based cessation treatments, removing all barriers to accessing these treatments, promoting coverage to Medicaid enrollees and health care providers, and monitoring use of covered treatments (2,4–7).

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