Eliminates Prior Approval for Medicaid Tobacco Cessation Medications; Counseling Options to be Expanded

TRENTON, NJ – The Murphy administration on Monday announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in New Jersey, leading to chronic lung disease, heart disease, stroke and cancer,” said New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson. “The Murphy administration is committed to reducing tobacco use, which kills 11,800 New Jerseyans each year.”

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Medicaid will make it easier for beneficiaries to get help quitting by removing the requirement that individuals need prior approval from their health plan before they obtain tobacco cessation medications. 

Also, in January Medicaid will add group counseling for tobacco cessation to services it covers.

"Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in New Jersey: today’s announcement by Governor Murphy and Commissioner Johnson will make it easier for New Jersey residents to quit this deadly addiction once and for all," said Michael Seilback, National AVP, State Public Policy for the  American Lung Association. “Expanding tobacco cessation coverage for Medicaid enrollees, who smoke at rates higher than the rest of the population, is not only an important opportunity to save lives and prevent tobacco-related disease, but it will also reduce the state's healthcare costs."

“The American Heart Association| American Stroke Association is supportive of this initiative,” said Dr. Jacqueline Schwanwede, president of the Northern New Jersey Board of Directors of the American Heart Association| American Stroke Association. “Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, but smokers often need help to quit this deadly habit. Expanding access to tobacco cessation treatment for Medicaid patients will save lives, improve health and save the state money by reducing health care costs.”

With these changes, Medicaid will provide coverage of all seven Food and Drug Administration-approved tobacco cessation medications and all three forms of counseling that help smokers quit. 

The American Lung Association previously gave New Jersey an “F” for poor access to tobacco cessation services, but under the Governor’s commitment in the new state budget Medicaid is changing its benefits to better help New Jerseyans quit tobacco.

“This action is an important step in moving toward a healthier New Jersey, and we will continue to work to remove barriers so that individuals trying to quit tobacco can get the help they need,” Johnson said.