Legislators say they will not touch the topic of Indiana’s eight-month-old smoking ban during this year’s legislative session. But officials from the American Cancer Society are lobbying for legislators to preserve funding for the health department’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation program.
The current budget passed by the House cuts $3 million from the program‘s budget. American Cancer Society legislative director Amanda Estridge urged legislators to reconsider.
“5,430 kids will grow to be addicted smokers. We will see an increase in our health care expenditure of $95 million, and our state Medicaid program will see an increase in health care spending of $15.5 million,” she says.
Estridge says she criticized the smoking ban enacted last year as being too weak. Other anti-smoking advocates say legislators are unlikely to pass a tougher law and that citywide bans like those in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne are the answer.
Estridge says anti-smoking groups are also urging legislators to expand Medicaid eligibility under the federal health care law.
“By accepting federal funds for the Medicaid program, Indiana will help to ensure that more people will be able to see a doctor on a regular basis, have access to preventive services. Access to these critical services enhances the likelihood of detecting cancer at an earlier, more curable stage,” she says.
The Republican-controlled legislature has backed Governor Pence’s decision to reject an expansion of traditional Medicaid, while leaving the door ajar for expansion if the government will allow it to be administered through the Healthy Indiana Plan.