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NY State Medicaid Program Expands Coverage of Smoking Cessation Counseling

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Media Contact: Betty Olt
(516) 465-2645

GREAT NECK, NY -- Thanks to recently expanded Medicaid coverage of smoking cessation counseling, Medicaid enrollees of all ages are now eligible for the service. Under the new coverage, up to six, face-to-face counseling sessions during any 12 continuous months may be provided. Smoking cessation counseling complements the use of prescription and non-prescription smoking cessation products, which also are covered by Medicaid.

“This is a great benefit,” said Patricia Folan, RN, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore-LIJ Health System . “Preventing and reducing tobacco use are the most important public health actions that can be taken to improve the health of New Yorkers, and comprehensive smoking cessation coverage – which includes counseling and medication – works.”

Medicaid is government-funded health care that pays the medical expenses of people who are unable to pay some or all of their own medical expenses.

This expansion of Medicaid coverage is important for several reasons, including:

  • Tobacco use costs each New York State household an average of $842 annually in local, state and federal taxes to cover tobacco-caused costs to government.
  • Tobacco use costs New York State over $8 billion per year in smoking-related healthcare costs.
  • According to the 2009 New York Adult Tobacco Survey, 48 percent of all smokers are on Medicaid or have no health insurance.
  • While approximately 18 percent of New Yorkers smoke, 30 percent of Medicaid recipients are smokers.
  • Smokers on Medicaid were more likely to have attempted to quit smoking in the past year than those with private insurance. However, the smokers with Medicaid were less likely to quit smoking successfully than those with private health insurance.
  • Tobacco use and dependence is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in New York. Quitting smoking is the most important thing smokers can do for their health.

The overall prevalence of smoking in New York has fallen by about 22 percent since 2001, but cigarette use still results in an estimated 25,500 deaths in New York each year. Additionally, despite the statewide decline, tobacco use remains higher among certain population groups.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report (“Cigarette Smoking – United States, 1965 – 2008”) found that, “In addition to racial/ethnic disparities in cigarette smoking, other groups have higher prevalence of cigarette smoking, with higher use reported among persons with low socioeconomic status; persons with histories of mental health and substance abuse conditions …”

“Addressing health disparities is an important part of improving the overall health of the American public,” said Jacqueline Moline, MD, vice president of Population Health at North Shore-LIJ. “It’s critical that we assist Medicaid recipients with their quit smoking attempts. Through this program, we can ensure that all New Yorkers, particularly those most in need of smoking cessation services, have access to the highest quality care and with cessation advice and treatment.”

“Counseling and medication are each effective when used by themselves for treating tobacco dependence, said Ms. Folan. “However, the combination of counseling and medication is more effective than either alone. So, clinicians should encourage all individuals making a quit attempt to use both counseling and medication. And Medicaid’s expanded services will make this approach more affordable for many people.”

The Center for Tobacco Control offers a free community quit smoking program to anyone interested in quitting tobacco use. To enroll or receive additional information about the program, call 516-466-1980 or visit the website at: www.northshorelij.com/stopsmoking

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