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Calif. Bill Would Mandate Coverage Of Stop Smoking Treatments

— Health insurers would be required to help Californians kick the smoking habit if one state lawmaker gets his way. Democratic Senator Leland Yee is pushing a measure to make coverage of patches, gums, counseling and other anti-smoking treatments mandatory.

An Assembly committee approved the bill Tuesday. Yee said it will help the state bring down health costs. “But in the long run if we have a more healthy population, it is going to bring down the cost of not only whatever services we need to provide for us to live, but also, more importantly our health care programs.”

Yee said studies show if patients have unrestricted access to smoking cessation programs, they’re more likely to quit.

The California Association of Health Plans opposes the bill. The group points out that some insurers already offer such coverage. They said the new mandate will increase premiums.

According to the Department of public health, 14 percent of California adults smoke.

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