Legislation would expand tobacco cessation coverage under Medicaid

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Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate would expand tobacco cessation coverage to all Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries during the coronavirus pandemic.

State Medicaid programs cover some tobacco cessation services, but most do not include all evidence-based tobacco cessation services.

The Quit Because of COVID-19 Act would reduce barriers to accessing tobacco cessation services for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency; provide matching federal funds for the duration of the public health emergency to cover the entire cost of state outreach campaigns that educate providers and Medicaid enrollees regarding Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation services; and extend tobacco cessation coverage with no cost-sharing for two years following the end of the public health emergency with a 100 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages.

Covered services include individual, group, and phone-based cessation counseling and FDA-approved medications.

Smoking is associated with a higher likelihood of severe COVID-19 infection, including ICU admission or death, according to research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the bill, and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

A group of 59 advocacy groups sent Carper a letter expressing support for the bill.

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