Report: Arkansas non-smokers pay $630M Medicaid bill for smoking-related illnesses

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A new report shows Arkansas has jumped from 48th in overall health nationwide to 46th.

According to the United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings, the longest-running annual assessment of the country’s health, the Natural State’s biggest challenge is smoking. Its 2018 report shows nearly one in four Arkansas adults smoke.

An Arkansas health policy center found the habit not only adds up quickly for smokers, but also non-smokers.
 
“It continues to be the number one thing that kills Arkansans,” said Dr. Joe Thompson, the president and CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI). “There’s nothing good that comes from tobacco use when it comes to your health.”

Using the state’s All-Payer Claims Database, ACHI found the state spends $795 million annually in Medicaid on tobacco-related illnesses. The state’s $1.15/pack tax on cigarettes brings in $165 million in revenue. That means non-smokers in Arkansas pick up the rest of the bill, $630 million.

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