The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) expanded health insurance coverage for Americans and made vital investments in disease prevention initiatives, including tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has opposed efforts to repeal the ACA that would have cut funding for programs that help tobacco users quit and reduced the number of people with health insurance coverage, including coverage for tobacco cessation services.

The fight against tobacco – the leading cause of preventable death – must remain a national priority. Tobacco use kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, costs our nation $170 billion annually in health care bills and causes nearly a third of all deaths from cancer and heart disease.

We are working to protect:

Investments in Proven Prevention Programs

Created by the ACA, the Prevention and Public Health Fund provides critical funding to address risk factors for costly and deadly chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. As the old adage goes, a penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure – preventing people from smoking or helping them quit saves both lives and money.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has used the prevention fund to launch the Tips from Former Smokers (Tips) campaign, the federal government’s first paid nationwide media campaign aimed at encouraging smokers to quit.  The CDC estimates that Tips has motivated about five million smokers to try to quit, helped about 500,000 smokers to quit successfully and saved at least 50,000 lives since its launch in 2012.  At a cost of less than $400 for each year of life saved, it is considered a “best buy” in public health.

Repeal of the prevention fund would likely mean the elimination of this highly successful and cost-effective media campaign, resulting in fewer smokers quitting, more preventable and costly disease, and more premature deaths.

Expanded Private Insurance Coverage of Treatments That Help Smokers Quit

The ACA requires most private group and individual health plans to cover all recommended preventive services, including smoking cessation, without cost-sharing.

Nearly 70 percent of adult smokers want to quit, yet less than one-third use FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and/or counseling services.  Tobacco users who use recommended tobacco cessation services significantly improve their likelihood of quitting successfully compared to those who do not.  

Repealing this requirement will likely mean fewer insurers covering effective tobacco cessation services, more barriers for tobacco users to access these services, and fewer people quitting.

Expanded Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation

Before the ACA, there were no national requirements for tobacco cessation coverage under Medicaid. Medicaid coverage of smoking cessation treatment is critical because 27.8 percent of Medicaid recipients smoke compared to 11.1 percent of adults with private insurance, according to the CDC. Medicaid expenditures attributable to tobacco-related disease total $40 billion annually.

The ACA expanded Medicaid cessation coverage in several ways:

  • Requiring states to cover tobacco cessation services for pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid
  • Preventing states from excluding certain types of drugs from their Medicaid drug coverage, including FDA-approved smoking cessation medications
  • Requiring that essential health benefits, including preventive services like tobacco cessation services, be covered under Medicaid alternative benefit plans, which must be offered to adults newly eligible for Medicaid under the ACA.

Repealing this requirement would likely mean fewer smokers quitting, an unhealthier Medicaid population, and unnecessary treatment costs for tobacco-caused disease.