Senator Leland Yee is today proposing a law that would require health insurance policies to include coverage for tobacco cessation services. He made the announcement today at San Francisco General Hospital along with all these people:
Supervisor Eric Mar
Dr. Mitch Katz, San Francisco Department of Public Health
Serena Chen, American Lung Association
John Hanley, San Francisco Firefighters
Dr. Dexter Louie, California Medical Association
Gail Maderis, BayBio
Dr. Steve Fugaro, San Francisco Medical Society
Karen Licavoli-Farnkopf, Breathe California
District 2 Supervisor Eric Mar talked about his parents, who both “smoked like crazy.”
Click to expand
All the deets:
Bill Introduced to Require Insurance Companies Cover Tobacco Cessation. Senator Yee and Supervisor Mar team-up to sponsor legislation to fight cancer
SAN FRANCISCO – According the US Surgeon General, tobacco use is the single greatest cause of disease and premature death in America today and is responsible for more than 435,000 deaths annually, including nearly 40,000 in California alone.
In an effort to fight this epidemic, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) today teamed-up with San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, the American Lung Association, doctors, and firefighters to introduce legislation that would mandate health insurance policies include coverage for tobacco cessation services such as patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, gum, prescription medications, and counseling.
“The societal costs of tobacco-related death and disease approach $96 billion annually in medical expenses and $97 billion in lost productivity nationwide,” said Yee. “More then 70 percent of all current smokers, however, have expressed a desire to stop smoking. By ensuring that health plans cover the cost of quitting, more Californians will be able to kick this bad habit, medical costs will be reduced, and most importantly, lives will be saved.”
In 2006, as part of its universal healthcare program, Massachusetts began covering most expenses for smoking cessation counseling and prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients. The result has been an astonishing drop in the population of poor people who smoke — from 38% to 28%. There is also evidence of a parallel reduction in hospitalization for heart attacks and treatments for asthma.
“Smoking disproportionately impacts those in economically disadvantaged communities,” said Mar, who is sponsoring a resolution in support of Yee’s bill. “Requiring health care providers to include coverage for smokers who would like to quit smoking creates a healthier California and protects the public’s health.”
About 20 percent of adult Americans currently smoke, and 4,000 children and adolescents smoke their first cigarette each day. According to the California Department of Public Health, the adult smoking rate in California is 14 percent and there are approximately 3.8 million current adult smokers in California.
“It’s time to make it easier for the nearly four million Californians who smoke, to quit,” said Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. “Because, right now, we’re failing these people as highlighted by the ‘D’ grade earned in Cessation Coverage by the state in the American Lung Association’s recent State of Tobacco Control Report.”
“SB 220 takes another important step in the long journey of providing Californians the support and incentives they need to quit using tobacco products,” said Brennan Cassidy, M.D., president of the California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 physicians across the state. “Requiring health plans to cover smoking cessation treatment is a no-brainer. We know that when a person quits smoking it saves the health care system immensely by significantly reducing the chances of heart disease, lung cancer and other life-threatening diseases that require intensive, expensive treatment.”
“Smoking cessation is more cost-effective than other common and insurance-covered disease prevention interventions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol treatment and routine cancer screenings,” said Yee. “Consumers need and deserve this treatment option.”
With SB 220, California would become the 8th state to mandate coverage for tobacco cessation services. In addition to the American Lung Association, Yee’s bill is supported by the California Medical Association, California Psychological Association, San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, San Francisco Medical Society, National Council of Asian & Pacific Islander Physicians, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.