Health Advocates Applaud New Policy to Help Iowans Quit Smoking

April 25, 2019

The Iowa State Department of Health and Iowa Medicaid Enterprise recently announced that smoking cessation therapies for Iowa Medicaid enrollees will no longer be subject to prior authorization requirements. Beginning May 1, patients will not have to wait for additional insurance approval to access nicotine replacement therapy, such as a patch or gum, or oral smoking cessation medications.

In response, representatives from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Clean Air for Everyone released the following statement:

“This is an important step toward making effective smoking cessation therapies more accessible. We’re grateful that ISDH and IME recognized that barriers still existed and removed prior authorization requirements for Medicaid enrollees.

“Iowa’s 17-percent smoking rate still ranks high above the national average, and more than 5,000 Iowans lose their lives to smoking every single year. But prior authorization can force a person to put off quitting as they wait for their insurance to approve their cessation medication. When even one day without a cigarette can begin to improve a person’s health, it’s imperative that we do everything in our power to make it easier to quit.

“It’s our hope that more Iowans will now take the first step toward quitting smoking. We encourage those interested to contact the Iowa Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for additional support.”

Today, members from several statewide health organizations thanked ISDH and IME for helping Iowans who want to quit smoking. This included Danielle Oswald-Thole, Iowa government relations director for ACS CAN; Stacy Frelund, Iowa government relations director for the American Heart Association; Micki Sandquist, executive director for the American Lung Association in Iowa; and Eileen Fisher, president of Clean Air for Everyone.

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Tracy Lytwyn
Sr. Manager, Regional Media Advocacy