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New Report Shows Most States Not Providing Adequate Tobacco Cessation Coverage through Medicaid

March 27, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 27, 2014 – The majority of states are missing opportunities to reduce tobacco-related deaths and health care costs by providing inadequate tobacco cessation coverage and erecting barriers to effective quit tools in their Medicaid programs, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health (OSH).  The article, entitled “State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation Treatments and Barriers to Coverage – United States, 2008-2014,” is featured in this week’s issue of the CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report details that there has been some progress over the past six years in states providing more cessation benefits to Medicaid patients. More states have added tobacco cessation services than removed them. Yet, only seven Medicaid plans cover all recommended cessation benefits, including counseling and all seven Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications for all patients covered by their state program. Evidence shows that while medication and counseling are both effective on their own, combined they are even more effective.

A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

“Given that smoking rates are much higher among the Medicaid population, it is critical that every state provide access to comprehensive, evidence-based cessation services. Unfortunately, this report shows that the majority of states are not ensuring their Medicaid populations have access to all of the tools they need to help them quit using tobacco, and the majority of states are even imposing barriers to smokers seeking these services. According to the CDC’s report, those barriers include requiring Medicaid patients to pay a co-pay, requiring prior authorization before receiving treatment, limiting the duration of treatments and imposing annual limits to the number of quit attempts.

“ACS CAN is urging every state to eliminate these barriers and provide comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits under Medicaid, including counseling services and access to approved-FDA cessation medications to all Medicaid patients. It is important that smokers have access to all evidence-based cessation services because it often takes smokers several attempts to quit before they are successful and different types of counseling and medications work for different people. Comprehensive tobacco cessation services have been proven to be clinically effective and cost effective as well. If all states covered all of the recommended cessation benefits and removed barriers to smokers seeking cessation services we could see a dramatic decline in health care costs and suffering and death due to tobacco use among this population.”

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

Lauren Walens or Steven Weiss
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: (202) 661-5763 or (202) 661-5711
Email: or

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