Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Health Reform Law Preserves Vital Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jun. 28 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In upholding the health care reform law today, the Supreme Court has preserved essential disease prevention initiatives that will help reduce the staggering health and financial toll of tobacco use. These prevention measures include expanded coverage of treatments to help smokers quit, as well as a new prevention fund to finance proven disease prevention and public health activities in communities across the nation. Preservation of these important prevention initiatives is a victory for the nation's health and will save lives and save money by reducing health care costs.

The health care reform law requires coverage of smoking cessation and other preventive services without cost sharing, by group health plans and insurers, including those selling within the newly created insurance exchanges. The law also prevents states from excluding smoking-cessation drugs from the medications covered by their Medicaid programs and requires Medicaid to cover smoking-cessation treatments for pregnant women. It also provides incentives for state Medicaid programs to cover all recommended preventive services, including smoking cessation. Even if the Court's decision to limit the penalties imposed on states that do not comply with the Medicaid expansion in the law leads some states not to participate in the expansion of who is covered, in our view it should not impact the availability of these cessation and tobacco prevention services to those covered by Medicaid under current law.

The law also established a Prevention and Public Health Fund to finance proven community-based prevention programs targeting public health problems such as tobacco use and obesity. Americans spend more than $2 trillion a year to treat disease and manage illnesses, and almost three quarters of that money is spent on caring for people with chronic diseases, many of which we know how to prevent.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation $96 billion in health care expenditures annually. Effective prevention, including smoking-cessation coverage, will save lives, improve health and reduce health care costs.

 

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