Today the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced historic new expanded coverage options that States may offer for tobacco cessation services. This means Americans could now have more tools from their state and local tobacco control programs for help to tackle and overcome smoking and addiction to nicotine. This announcement is a major step towards reducing the tobacco epidemic in the U.S., which kills more than 400,000 people each year. These premature deaths are entirely preventable, and now states will have more resources through Medicaid to do just that.

In 2007, Legacy® published a report, Saving Lives, Saving Money II, referenced by CMS in today's announcement, that showed that Medicaid could reap huge cost savings by funding effective tobacco prevention and cessation programs. These programs could cut Medicaid costs by 5.6 percent (spending nearly $10 billion less)if all Medicaid beneficiaries who smoke, quit.

Smokers who receive recommended counseling and who take recommended quit-smoking medications are more likely to quit and stay quit. Therefore, the announcement this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that new graphic warning labels will also feature the toll-free 1-800-QUIT-NOW number on cigarette packs has been widely applauded . However, the states have made 'penny wise pound foolish' cuts that undercut the public health infrastructure needed as smokers reach out for help. By expanding coverage for tobacco cessation under the Affordable Care Act, state quitlines will be better prepared to respond to the onslaught of calls and smokers can get the help they desperately need.

Source: Legacy

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