Youngkin says he will sign legislation ending higher insurance premiums for tobacco users
The governor vetoed the proposal last year
In an about-face, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration said he supports legislation that would eliminate higher premiums on health insurance for tobacco users in Virginia. Youngkin vetoed similar bipartisan legislation last year on the grounds that it would increase health care costs for Virginians who don’t use tobacco and get rid of a tool meant to incentivize users to kick smoking.
But supporters of two identical bills from the House and Senate that would eliminate the surcharge, a change recommended by Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care, say the move would save money for all Virginians with insurance, regardless of whether they use tobacco, and improve access to therapeutic support to quit the habit.
The Affordable Care Act allows insurance companies to charge tobacco users up to 1.5 times more than non-users due to associated health risks, with the intention of pushing consumers into tobacco cessation programs. But analysts say the strategy has backfired, because the surcharge discourages many tobacco users, especially those who are low-income, from buying health insurance at all.
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