Bill Would Help NJ Medicaid Recipients Quit Smoking

May 18, 2018

New Jersey Statehouse

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would expand Medicaid coverage to help smokers quit.

Corrine Orlando with the American Heart Association says about 14 percent of Medicaid recipients in New Jersey smoke.

"It remains the one preventable cause of death and the New Jersey Medicaid program spends over a billion dollars a year just treating smoking related illnesses."

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway is also a doctor. He says easier access to tobacco cessation services could decrease hospital admissions.

"If we get people to stop, these admissions for emphysema and heart disease, heart attacks, and the like will be lessened and that certainly will save costs."

The legislation calls for providing Medicaid coverage for medications and counseling for tobacco cessation.

Assemblyman Dan Benson says it would prohibit certain conditions that could prevent  Medicaid recipients from getting tobacco cessation services.

"Prior authorization. If you tried two times and failed, sometimes they'll require prior authorization before you can try another time. It takes more than two times often for many people to quit. There are other barriers in terms of certain types of methods. They require you to fail on other ones first before you can try them."