Reps. Blunt Rochester & Fitzpatrick Introduce the Helping Tobacco Users Quit Act
Washington, July 24, 2023 | Andrew Donnelly (302-893-4406)
WASHINGTON - Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) introduced the Helping Tobacco Users Quit Act.
Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and more than 50% of the costs of treating tobacco-related diseases are paid for by the federal government. Medicaid enrollees smoke at twice the rate of those with private insurance, meaning that expanding cessation coverage in Medicaid would improve health outcomes while lowering government spending.
The bill would expand comprehensive Medicaid tobacco cessation coverage in every state with no cost-sharing or access barriers for beneficiaries. The bill would also help states conduct outreach campaigns to educate providers and beneficiaries about Medicaid’s coverage of cessation services. The measure is supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society Action Network, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Heart Association.
“We know that tobacco cessation works and that expanding cessation coverage in Medicaid not only improves health outcomes but lowers the cost of what the federal government pays in health care for tobacco-related diseases,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester, a Member of the Health Subcommittee. “I’m proud to be joining with Rep. Fitzpatrick in a bipartisan effort to help tobacco users quit, improve health outcomes, and lower costs incurred by the federal government.”
“The evidence tells us that tobacco use is a grave public health threat, and we must ensure that evidence-based cessation treatments are widely accessible,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to partner with Congresswoman Blunt Rochester on this bipartisan bill that will ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries – who utilize tobacco products at a disproportionate rate – have adequate access to effective mechanisms to safely quit usage.”
“Every year in the U.S., more than 480,000 people die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, making it the leading cause of preventable death in this country. Quitting smoking is extremely difficult, but it is possible with the right support and treatment,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The American Lung Association is pleased to support Representatives Blunt Rochester and Fitzpatrick’s Helping Tobacco Users Quit Act. This bipartisan bill will make it easier for millions of Americans to quit.”
“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports this legislation to ensure that all Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees have access to the full array of proven tobacco cessation treatments. We applaud Reps. Blunt Rochester and Fitzpatrick for their leadership in introducing this legislation to help more tobacco users get the support and treatment they need to quit, especially populations disproportionately impacted by tobacco use. This bill will help to reduce the glaring health disparities facing our nation, save lives and reduce healthcare costs,” said Yolonda C. Richardson, President & CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“This bill is critically needed to help eliminate tobacco-related cancer disparities by ensuring Medicaid enrollees have access to comprehensive cessation benefits without cost sharing,” said Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Individuals with limited incomes have long been targeted by the tobacco industry with its advertising and promotions, and the result is higher smoking rates among adults covered by Medicaid. It’s time we turn the tables and offer these individuals the evidence-based support they need to quit these deadly products for good.”
“Pediatricians have long been speaking out about the dangers that tobacco products pose to the health of children and teens. In fact, we call tobacco use a ‘pediatric disease’ since it almost always begins in adolescence. That is why the Helping Tobacco Users Quit Act is so important as it would ensure therapies to help young people quit tobacco products are covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. We applaud Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) for their commitment to addressing this issue, and urge lawmakers to quickly pass the legislation,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Sandy Chung, MD, FAAP.
“Investing in comprehensive tobacco cessation programs can help reduce smoking rates, lower health care costs and improve health outcomes,” said Mark Schoeberl, Executive Vice President of Advocacy at the American Heart Association. “Unfortunately, many state Medicaid programs do not cover all evidence-based tobacco cessation services. The American Heart Association appreciates Reps. Blunt Rochester and Fitzpatrick for their work to ensure Medicaid beneficiaries and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees have the best chance of quitting the deadly habit of tobacco use.”
The Helping Tobacco Users Quit Act has already demonstrated success at the state level, as evidenced by data in Massachusetts. After the state enhanced its Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation and conducted a campaign to increase awareness of this coverage, smoking rates in its Medicaid program decreased from 38 percent to 28 percent over two-and-a-half years. For every $1 that Massachusetts spent on its tobacco cessation benefit, $3.12 in health care savings were achieved.
Full text of the bill can be found here.