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KanCare Expands Tobacco Cessation Benefits

July 11, 2018

As of July 1, 2018, all individuals covered by Kansas Medicaid—KanCare—are eligible to receive ongoing cessation counseling services. In addition, they can obtain free tobacco cessation medications, with no preauthorization or copay, for up to four quit attempts each year. This new legislation replaces previous limited tobacco cessation benefits, which covered medications for only one quit attempt per year and limited counseling benefits to pregnant women only. These new benefits were made possible by an addition to the Kansas FY 2019 legislative budget that authorized up to $350,000 in additional expenditures for the new cessation treatment coverage.

Patient advocates from Kansas Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI-KS), the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and The University of Kansas Cancer Center advocated for this increased coverage. Kimber Richter, PhD, MPH, researcher with The University of Kansas Cancer Center, provided testimony to the Kansas Senate about its importance.

“This expansion provides KanCare policy holders with close to barrier-free, comprehensive coverage,” Dr. Richter said. “Tobacco cessation medication such as the patch or gum or other pharmacotherapies, combined with supportive counseling, give patients the best shot at quitting and achieving long-term success.”

A typical course of cessation pharmacotherapy lasts 90 days. With four covered quit attempts per year, tobacco users and their providers should be able to try different medication and counseling combinations until they find the one that works. To read the proviso, see page 24, item j of Kansas State Bill 109. If you have specific questions about the new benefits, contact Dr. Richter at

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