Friday, July 2, 2010

Partnership for Prevention co-signed a letter on July 2, 2010 to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary off the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It addresses a critical area of health promotion, specifically the definition the federal government chooses to adopt for comprehensive tobacco cessation services. The letter urges Secretary Sebelius to utilize DHHS’s 2008 Public Health Service Guideline “Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence” as the trustworthy source document in crafting the definition because of the rigor and precision involved in its development.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual coverage to cover USPSTF “A” & “B” rated preventive services with no cost sharing. Tobacco cessation, rated as the highest value preventive service, is, of course, included in this provision. However, it is not uncommon in the current health insurance marketplace for health insurance issuers to limit coverage or establish restrictive rules for tobacco users to access the needed treatment. In defining comprehensive tobacco cessation services, these restrictions must be disallowed and excluded.
The letter makes three recommendations to the Secretary:
  1. Require health plans to cover all three types of counseling deemed effective by the PHS Guideline for tobacco cessation: individual (face-to-face), group and proactive telephone counseling.
  2. Require health plans to cover all seven medications FDA-approved to treat tobacco addiction.
  3. Comprehensive tobacco cessation treatments should be promoted to encourage tobacco users to quit.
The letter was co-signed by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Legacy, and Partnership for Prevention.  Click here to view the entire letter.


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