December 12, 2019
GOVERNOR CUOMO TAKES FURTHER ACTION TO ADDRESS E-CIGARETTE-RELATED ADDICTION AND ILLNESSES AS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES DIRECTS NEW YORK INSURERS TO COVER VAPING CESSATION TREATMENTS
Department Issues Guidance Advising Insurers to Cover Vaping Cessation Using the Same Methods Recommended for Smoking Cessation without Co-Pays, Coinsurance, and Deductibles
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced further action to address the growing threat of e-cigarette use, with measures to combat the increasing number of vaping-related illnesses. As part of these efforts, the Department of Financial Services today issued guidance advising New York insurers that they must cover the costs associated with most vaping cessation - without co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles - using the same treatments recommended for smoking cessation.
"E-cigarette use has exploded in recent years and many of the people who want to quit are now having trouble because vaping is more addicting than they previously thought," Governor Cuomo said. "New Yorkers trying to stop vaping need access to treatment, and this action will require insurance companies to provide the same coverage they would for smoking cessation to anyone seeking to stop using e-cigarettes."
As of December 3, 2019, 2,291 cases of e-cigarette-associated lung injury had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 50 states, and 48 deaths have been confirmed in 25 states, including here in New York, where a second death due to a vaping-associated illness was reported on November 20. To combat this growing problem, Governor Cuomo has taken several actions, including banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in New York, warning New Yorkers against e-cigarette use, and directing the New York State Department of Health to investigate companies that produce vaping substances and require smoke and vape shops to post warnings advising New Yorkers of the health risks - all while the federal government stalls on banning e-cigarettes.
According to the circular letter issued today, because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and people who vape may become addicted to nicotine, insurers should provide coverage for vaping cessation treatment using methods recommended for smoking cessation, including screening, behavioral interventions and FDA-approved pharmacotherapy for adults and behavioral interventions for school-aged children and adolescents, as appropriate.
Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell said, "Insurers must adapt to address emerging issues in public health and that includes vaping, which is growing in use including among teenagers causing illnesses and even deaths. Insurers must cover vaping cessation in the same way they cover services for smoking cessation, and do so without cost-sharing."
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "There is no question that e-cigarette usage is bad for your health, and in some cases can even be deadly. I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking this important step to ensure that people looking for help to quit vaping don't have to worry about the financial cost."
The Department will continue to monitor compliance with all preventive service requirements and may take action against any insurer that fails to comply with all statutory and regulatory requirements relating to preventive care for e-cigarette cessation.
A copy of the Circular Letter from DFS can be found here.