Schwarzenegger Must Decide on Smoking-Cessation Bill by Oct. 9
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) by Oct. 9 must act on a bill that would require health insurers to cover smoking-cessation programs, including counseling, prescription patches, inhalers, nasal sprays, and over-the-counter gum and lozenges, USA Today reports.
Supporters of the bill say the mandate would save lives and encourage other states to enact similar legislation. The California Tobacco Control Alliance estimates that health insurers would recoup initial losses from the mandate by the second year, and, by the fifth year, would save $1.4 billion.
The bill is opposed by health insurers and the state Chamber of Commerce.
Bobby Pena, spokesperson for the California Association of Health Plans, said the California Mandate Association estimates that the bill would cost insurers about $77 million in the first year.
Julie Soderlund, a Schwarzenegger spokesperson, said, "The governor considers each piece of legislation on a case-by-case basis" (Koch, USA Today, 9/26).