California Bill Requires Medicaid Coverage Of Smoking Cessation Aids

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Californialawmakers can help reduce smoking rates in the state, particularly among theAsian-American population, "by ensuring that Medi-Cal, the state's healthinsurance program for the elderly, disabled and poor, covers the full range ofsmoking cessation services," a Capitol Weekly editorial states. Medi-Cal is thestate's Medicaid program. "Smoking hurts everyone and helps no one, butthe numbers tell a depressing story in Asian-American communities," whereresearch has indicated cancer deaths are rising faster than among other ethnicgroups, among other findings, the editorial adds.

According to Capitol Weekly, currently, Medi-Cal provides onlypartial smoking cessation benefits, and "too few" patients anddoctors are aware that there is coverage at all. A bill (AB 2662) by Assemblymember Mervyn Dymally (D) would require Medi-Cal to "offer the full rangeof personal counseling and/or all FDA-approved smoking cessationmedications" and to increase public awareness of such benefits, theeditorial states.

The California Medical Association and the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum both support the bill, according tothe editorial, which concludes, "With Medi-Cal providing smoking cessationtreatment for all recipients, California'sAsian community may be able to break the tobacco addiction for good" (CapitolWeekly, 5/15).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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