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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
July 16, 2003

State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco-Dependence Treatments—United States, 1994-2001

JAMA. 2003;290(3):327-328. doi:10.1001/jama.290.3.327

MMWR. 2003;52:496-500

2 tables omitted

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.1 One of the national health objectives for 2010 is to increase insurance coverage of evidence-based treatment for nicotine dependence (i.e., total coverage of behavioral therapies and Food and Drug Administration [FDA]–approved pharmacotherapies) in Medicaid programs from 36 states to all states and the District of Columbia (DC) (objective 27.8).2 To increase both the use of treatment by smokers attempting to quit and the number of smokers who quit successfully,3,4 the Guide to Community Preventive Services5 recommends reducing the "out-of-pocket" cost of effective tobacco-dependence treatments (i.e., individual, group, and telephone counseling, and FDA–approved pharmacotherapies) for smokers. The 2000 Public Health Service (PHS) Clinical Practice Guideline supports expanded insurance coverage for tobacco-dependence treatments.6 In 2000, approximately 32 million low-income persons in the United States received their health insurance coverage through the federal-state Medicaid program7; 11.5 million (36%) of these persons smoked (CDC, unpublished data, 2000). The amount and type of coverage for tobacco-dependence treatment offered by Medicaid has been reported for 1998 and 2000 from state surveys conducted by the Center for Health and Public Policy Studies (CHPPS) at the University of California, Berkeley.8 All states and DC were re-surveyed in 2001 about amount and type of coverage, and level of coverage since 1994. This report summarizes the results of the survey, which indicate that the number of Medicaid programs providing some coverage for tobacco-dependence counseling or medication increased from 34 in 2000 to 36 in 2001, but only one state offered coverage for all the counseling and pharmacotherapy treatments recommended by the 2000 PHS guideline. If the 2010 national health objective is to be achieved, Medicaid coverage for treatment of tobacco dependence should be increased dramatically.