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Bills Will Create Smoking Cessation Benefit

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May 13, 2009

  Write to Congress
  Durbin’s Announcement

New bills in the Senate and House will require Medicare and Medicaid to include smoking cessation programs as a benefit for patients.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), with Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA,) has introduced S 770. In the House of Representatives, Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Todd Platts (R-PA) have introduced an identical bill, HR 1850. Not only would these bills require Medicare and Medicaid programs to include smoking cessation programs as a benefit, they would also define who could provide smoking cessation counseling.

“S 770 and HR 1850 are important to us, of course, because respiratory therapists are well-qualified to provide this service and ideally positioned to work with these patients, as we already do so everyday,” said Jonathan Waugh, chair of the AARC’s Roundtable on a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle.

“We need to support these bills because they will lessen the most preventable cause of disease, resulting in lower health care costs for the nation and they will be important to the work of the respiratory therapist.”

In introducing the bill, Durbin said, “Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, more than 45 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. With more than four in five smokers reporting that they want to quit, there is no excuse for not providing them with the resources to do so.”

“This legislation will help millions of smokers overcome their addiction to nicotine by providing them access to tobacco cessation programs,” said Senator Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Most smokers want to quit and they deserve our help.  This bill makes an important investment in a healthier America.”

Senator Durbin has, for over 20 years, been a strong supporter of tobacco-free legislation. The AARC worked with Senator Durbin to enact legislation that now bans smoking on airlines. He received the ARCF’s Charles H. Hudson Award for his efforts. He also worked hard to fashion the landmark Tobacco Settlement Agreement that has brought millions of dollars paid for by the Tobacco Industry into states to support tobacco prevention programs.