The FY 2019 budget recently signed into law by Governor Colyer includes authority for expenditures up to $350,000 for expansion of the tobacco cessation benefits in KanCare. Individuals covered by KanCare are now eligible to receive up to four rounds of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) each year with no lifetime caps as well as ongoing cessation counseling services. The budget provision replaces the previous limitation of one quit attempt per year and the limitation on counseling which had been reserved only for pregnant women.
This means that all individuals who are covered by KanCare and want help in quitting tobacco now have access to both NRT and counseling services, which together are considered a best practice for increasing the chances of long-term recovery from tobacco use. The budget language prohibits the state Medicaid agency or any MCO from imposing any prior authorization requirements for any of the covered tobacco cessation treatments.
Many hands were involved in achieving this milestone. Special appreciation is due to Senators Barbara Bollier and Vicki Schmidt and members of the Budget Conference Committee. Leadership in advocacy for the policy change was provided by Kimber Richter, PhD and Tami Gurley-Calvez PhD, both with KUMed, Tracy Russell with the American Heart Association and Hilary Gee with the American Cancer Society. Supporting testimony was provided by more than 14 organizations.
This policy change is effective on July 1, 2018 by the The Kansas Department of Health & Environment. Assurances have been offered by KDHE that these changes to cessation services will become a permanent part of the KanCare program. Partner organizations are moving ahead with plans to develop educational materials and a marketing campaign designed to drive utilization of these new benefits. For more information about getting involved with efforts to promote the new program, contact Rick Cagan.