NYS Could Save $1.5 Billion In Medicaid Costs

Implementing Proven Tobacco Control Programs Will Reduce Financial Burden, Save Lives

ALBANY, NY (11/30/2007)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Associations of New York State today trumpeted the findings of a report released by the American Legacy Foundation which concludes that effective smoking prevention and cessation programs could cut Medicaid costs in New York State by $1.5 billion. According to the report, Saving Lives, Saving Money II, New York State would realize these savings within 5 years if all Medicaid beneficiaries who smoke were to quit.

“This report emphasizes the incredible benefits of life-saving tobacco cessation programs,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy. “These benefits would not only be felt by governments who must deal with the increasing costs of Medicaid, but also by those addicted to this deadly product and the loved ones of smokers who deal with the terrible impact of tobacco on a daily basis.”

This October, in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, the Lung Association called on Governor Spitzer and the New York State Legislature to fully fund tobacco control programs at the CDC recommended levels.

“Funding these proven programs now will not only saves lives, but also save future taxpayer dollars by helping to reduce the number of New Yorkers who smoke,” said Seilback. “At a minimum, New York State must fund cessation programs for expecting mothers so that new generations of New Yorkers are born free from the ravages of maternal tobacco use.”

In 2006, New York took a positive step forward by drastically increasing funding for the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control & Prevention. Within New York’s Tobacco Control Program are nineteen Cessation Centers statewide whose sole purpose is to assist healthcare professionals, tobacco users and interested members of the community. Today’s announcement reinforces the need to further increase New York’s tobacco control spending.

“New York State could drastically reduce smoking levels, while also increasing funding for the tobacco control program by immediately enacting an additional $1.50 in the state tobacco excise tax,” continued Seilback. “Raising the tax will lead to increased state revenue, while at the same time creating an economic incentive for smokers to quit their deadly addiction.”

CDC’s newly revised guidelines recommend that New York State spend a minimum of $155.1 million annually, up from the former recommended minimum of $95.8 million. Currently New York State spends $87.5 million -- $8.3 million less than what is currently recommended on these critical programs. The CDC estimates that if states funded their tobacco control programs at the recommended level of investment for 5 years, it would result in 5 million fewer smokers, nationally. This translates into millions of lives saved and billions of dollars in health care and other savings.

The American Lung Association of New York State calls on Governor Spitzer and the New York State legislature to make full Medicaid coverage for cessation a reality as a treatment option in New York. Additionally, we will continue to push our elected officials to fund these vital public health programs at the new levels recommended by CDC.

Since 1904, the American Lung Association of New York State has worked tirelessly to promote lung health and prevent lung disease across New York State. The premier lung health resource in New York State, the Lung Association helps to protect and educate over ten million New Yorkers across 57 counties. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is "Improving life, one breath at a time." For more information about the American Lung Association of New York state or to support the work we do, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit us at www.alanys.org.

Editors Note – The American Legacy Foundation report is available by visiting www.alanys.org and clicking on the reports tab on the left.