Senate bill would require insurance companies to provide treatment services for individuals trying to quit smoking

03/15/2016 04:20 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would require insurance companies to pay for treatment for individuals trying to quit using tobacco products is being considered by a Senate committee.

Senate Bill 291, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, would help smokers, whether they have private insurance or Medicaid, to have access to approved and recommended treatment services to help them quit.

“Many insurers already cover these tools, but a few are holding out and costing lives and costing Kentucky taxpayers a lot of money by blocking access to the necessary treatments and medication, and counseling healthcare providers prescribe,” Raque Adams said. “They claim to do so in the name of saving healthcare dollars, but this is very short sighted.”

Tonya Chang, government relations director with the American Heart Association, told committee members that the time for action is now since the state in near the bottom of the list in the nation when it comes to overall health.

“Quite frankly, we are at a race to the bottom, between Kentucky and West Virginia, in terms of who has the worse healthcare status among our citizens,” Chang said. “If we are going to get serious about addressing our budget crisis, we’ve also got to get serious about addressing and improving the health of Kentuckians. This bill would do just that.”

Audrey Darville, a tobacco treatment specialist at UK Healthcare says that most people who smoke hope to quit, but they are in dire need of treatment to do so.

“Seven out of 10 people who smoke want to quit smoking,” Darville said. “There’s a strong desire on the part of people who use tobacco to quit. We just are denying them the tools that they need.”

Under the legislation, treatment services would be limited to no more than two attempts to quit per individual over a 12-month period. The legislation was not voted on in the committee, but heard for “discussion only.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.