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When states offer Medicaid enrollees health coverage for smoking cessation programs, those patients tend to have lower smoking rates, and Indiana is one of only seven states that offer that comprehensive coverage, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Smoking rates are significantly higher among Medicaid patients than the general population. But the report says more of them would quit smoking if Medicaid offered coverage for more treatment programs and the seven FDA-approved anti-smoking medications.
Indiana offers financial assistance for both counseling and all the medications under Medicaid and the Healthy Indiana Plan.
Tobacco Prevention and Cessation at the Indiana State Department of Health Director Miranda Spitznagle says Indiana’s model is one other states should follow.
“We want to make sure that this group in particular has access to all the resources to help them quit and is knowledgeable that there are resources available to them,” she says.
But the number of people that qualify for the Healthy Indiana Plan is fairly limited, hundreds of thousands of low-income Hoosiers do not have any health coverage at all, and CDC statistics show Indiana still has the seventh highest rate of smoking in the country among all adults.
Indiana Prevention Resource Center research coordinator Courtney Stewart says it’s good that Indiana is providing support to the Medicaid patients, but it’s not enough.
“Not everyone obviously is able to receive Medicaid, so I think expanding the offer to anyone who wishes to quit smoking would be the ideal situation,” she says.
Under current law, that would largely be up to individual insurance companies to decide whether they want to provide coverage.