ASCO has signed a joint letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for clear and comprehensive guidance on the tobacco cessation benefit in the Affordable Care Act regulations.
In the letter, the organizations applaud the Department of Health and Human Services for its recent release of the 50th anniversary Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress, which called for more rapid progress against tobacco use. Under current Affordable Care Act regulations, insurance companies must provide coverage for tobacco cessation services; however, ASCO and the other organizations remain concerned about tobacco users’ limited access to the free services provided under the legislation.
The letter cites a 2012 study by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute that found that many health insurance plans do not provide the full range of coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Due to unclear contract language found in many plans as well as the narrow interpretation of the law held by many insurance companies, the signing organizations recommend that the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury issue guidance to the health insurance industry clarifying that “tobacco cessation interventions” include coverage of both counseling sessions and Food and Drug Administration-approved medications. ■
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