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’Healthy People 2020’ Calls for State Medicaid Coverage of Smoking Cessation Tools


The latest 10-year plan for improving the nation’s health suggests that the U.S. smoking rate can decline from 21 percent to 12 percent through more workplace smoking bans and more insurance coverage of smoking cessation treatments, the Associated Press reported Dec. 2.

This year’s Healthy People 2020 goals, the government’s map for improving everything from chronic disease prevalence rates to public health crisis events, included a new focus on policies that states and localities can institute to create healthier environments. The federal government has been defining 10-year health goals for the past 30 years.

Smoking was one of several health-related areas where progress stalled or declined according to the most recent 10-year data, which will be available in final form next spring. While this led to setting more reasonable progress goals in Healthy People 2020 in areas such as combating obesity, the blueprint’s goal for smoking reduction still represented an ambitious undertaking.

The government suggested that if more state Medicaid programs pay for proven smoking cessation treatments, the country could make significant progress toward reaching a 12 percent smoking prevalence by 2020.

The latest document took a communitywide approach to health issues, stating that improving social and environmental conditions would go a long way in efforts at disease prevention. Only 19 percent of the Healthy People 2010 goals were fully met as of last year, although progress was reported in another 52 percent of goals.

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