Is Connecticut helping its smokers quit? Yes and no, says report

Though Connecticut has made some strides in funding measures that help smokers quit, there’s still a lot of work to be done. That’s according to the American Lung Association’s report “Helping Smokers Quit: Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2012,” which was released today.

The report provides a comprehensive review of each state’s tobacco cessation coverage and an up-to-date look at federal coverage and requirements under the Affordable Care Act. On Nov. 26, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a proposed rule requiring essential health benefit coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act to cover preventive services, including cessation. However, HHS hasn’t yet defined what insurers must include as part of a cessation benefit.

According to the lung association, not only is smoking dangerous for your health, it’s also costly. The association estimates the annually costs of tobacco use in the U.S. are $193 billion, and argues that providing comprehensive coverage of messages that help people quit is crucial to saving lives and dollars.

However, the report shows that only two states — Indiana and Massachussetts — provide comprehensive cessation coverage through Medicaid and four states — Illinois, New Mexico, North Dakota and Rhode Island — provide comprehensive coverage through state employee health plans.

Connecticut received mixed reviews in the report. It was one of two states to expand its Medicaid coverage of cessation in 2012, adding coverage of all seven tobacco cessation medications and individual counseling. But Medicaid still doesn’t cover group or phone counseling. And there are several cessation measures not covered under state employee health plans in Connecticut, including nicotine replacement therapy nasal spray and inhalers, and group and individual counseling. The state also doesn’t meet lung association best practices for funding its Quitlines, with the state spending about $3.40 per smoking on the phone services. ALA recomends a level of $10.53 per smoker, or more.

What do you think about the report? Do you think the state should fund smoking cessation programs? Leave your comments below.

Amanda Cuda