On March 1, CHLPI staff and students traveled to Louisville, KY to facilitate the Tackling Lung Cancer in Kentucky Policy Workshop, a discussion among experts and advocates on what could be done at the state level to improve lung cancer prevention and treatment. Participants in the workshop from across the Bluegrass State developed concrete action plans around two policy priorities identified by KY stakeholders: (1) increasing the tobacco excise tax and (2) supporting active legislation that would improve access to tobacco cessation medication and counseling. Over the course of the day, workshop attendees phoned legislators to voice their support for the bill, activated their personal and professional networks to support the bill, and networked with other bill supporters to plan for effective implementation of the future law. CHLPI is thrilled to report that Kentucky S.B. 89: An Act relating to health benefit coverage for tobacco cessation treatment, passed 35-2 in the Senate, 90-1 in the House, and was signed into law by the Governor on March 21, 2017!
This means that health insurer operating in the state, including Medicaid, MUST cover all FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and all tobacco cessation services recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, including individual, group, and telephone cessation counseling. These medications and services must be covered by every insurer without annual or lifetime limits, and without requiring co-payments, co-insurance, or deductible.
This law will ensure that more people across the state will be able to access critical services and medications to help them quite smoking, which is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Kentucky has the highest rate of lung cancer in the country.
Congratulations to all of our on-the-ground partners in the state on a big win in the fight for every Kentuckian to live cancer-free!