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LCA Joins Coalition To Advocate For Medicare and Medicaid Coverage Of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines

June 14, 2010 [Washington, DC] – Lung Cancer Alliance and more than thirty patient advocate and public health organizations have sent a letter to Cindy Mann, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, in support of allowing states to obtain federal Medicaid and Medicare matching funds for the cost of tobacco cessation “quitlines”.  Quitlines have been proven effective and important tools for helping smokers to quit.  By ensuring Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for these services, states can improve access to these services, encourage more tobacco users to quit, and reduce the disease and health costs associated with tobacco addiction.

Quitlines provide telephone-based tobacco cessation counseling services, cessation medications and other services. In some cases, quitlines can also link tobacco users to broader health-related information and resources, such as lung cancer screening programs, asthma treatment and portable oxygen providers. Every state and two territories in the United States have tobacco cessation quitlines linked together through a national network via a toll free number, 1-800 QUIT NOW.

Medicaid beneficiaries use tobacco at rates 50 percent higher than the general population. While figures vary from state to state, Medicaid beneficiaries typically constitute 10 to 40 percent of quitline callers seeking help in their attempts to quit using tobacco.

The U.S. Public Health Service recently found that quitline counseling can substantially increase a smoker’s chances of quitting, and quitline counseling combined with medication (such as nicotine replacement therapy) is even more effective at helping smokers quit.  Moreover, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recognizes the importance of tobacco-cessation counseling for Medicare beneficiaries and has recently proposed expanding tobacco cessation counseling.  With tobacco-related illnesses accounting for 10 to 15 percent of all Medicaid expenditures, there is also a fiscal incentive to reduce tobacco use among Medicaid beneficiaries.

Lung Cancer Alliance will monitor the progress of this issue and will provide regular updates as it moves forward. 

Click here to read the letter.