The National Conference of State Legislatures is underway in Louisville. The American Lung Association is using the opportunity to push for more support for anti-smoking programs.
The federal healthcare overhaul package mandates that, starting this fall, Medicaid cover smoking cessation programs for pregnant women. The ALA says that gives states a good opportunity to expand Medicaid to help everyone who wants to quit smoking.
Manager of Cessation Policy Jennifer Singleterry says hundreds of millions of Medicaid dollars go toward treating smoking-related illnesses. Expanding cessation coverage would require funding as well, but Singleterry says the government will likely match whatever the states pay.
“If they spend a little money, they would get the federal government to pay for a lot of it, depending on how much the feds contribute to their Medicaid match,” she says.
Singleterry adds that the expansion would cut down on red tape, since state Medicaid programs would not have to vary payouts to cover only pregnant women.