Governor Napolitano Signs Smoking Cessation Bill

PHOENIX, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Janet Napolitano yesterday signed Senate Bill 1418 into law, allowing the state Medicaid program to expend moneys to provide smoking cessation treatments to its eligible members.

Introduced by Sen. Barbara Leff (R-Paradise Valley), SB 1418 will have no impact whatsoever on the state's General Fund and will provide benefits for nicotine replacement therapies and tobacco use medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to eligible state Medicaid beneficiaries who are seeking to quit smoking.

Until now, Arizona was one of just seven states that did not cover smoking cessation programs in the state's Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).

Currently, AHCCCS spends about $316 million each year on smoking-related illnesses -- totaling about 14 percent of the system's costs. If fully implemented, this measure will make AHCCCS eligible to recover nearly 67 percent of those expenses through federal matching funds.

"Helping people to stop smoking will not only benefit the individuals, but will benefit the State," Leff said. "Smoking causes massive health problems, and the treatments for those diseases are all being paid for by taxpayers through the AHCCCS program. Getting people off tobacco will result in a savings for the State and an improvement in the lives of the people served by AHCCCS."

It is estimated that 36 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries are smokers -- significantly higher than the national average of 21 percent, according to figures from the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The measure has been supported by a number of health organizations, including the American Cancer Society. "It is so encouraging to see Governor Napolitano and the Arizona Legislature recognize the impact of this legislation and work to help our state's Medicaid beneficiaries quit smoking," said Colby Bower, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society in Arizona. "We stand strongly in favor of efforts to help reduce the risk of lung cancer, and other types of cancers, among Arizona citizens, particularly when those efforts can come with such strong economic benefits."

"With state Medicaid recipients smoking at a rate significantly higher than the national average, this legislation will provide help to those who need it most," said Arizona Rep. Bob Stump (R-Dist. 9), chairman of the House health committee and supporter of the legislation.

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit http://www.cancer.org.

SOURCE The American Cancer Society

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