Tobacco Policy

New Tobacco Cessation Coverage Announced by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid


By Gustavo Torrez

Program Manager, Network for LGBT Health Equity

A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA

Today the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) announced new changes to their coverage for tobacco cessation services.

As you may know, the new graphic warning labels will have the 1-800-QUIT-NOW number placed on the label. It is guaranteed that this will increase call volume dramatically to local quitlines. In an effort to keep up with the projected demand these new changes will provide the support quitlines need moving forward.

These changes will not only help individuals quit, but will assist in creating healthier environments for children and families. It is estimated that this change will save taxpayers money by helping to reduce the $30.9 billion a year Medicaid spends to treat tobacco-caused disease.

CMS identified way states can elect to expand coverage listed below:

  • Reminding states that state Medicaid programs now must fully cover, without cost-sharing, tobacco cessation services for pregnant women, both counseling and medications, as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Laying out multiple ways that states can provide pharmacotherapy and counseling to non-pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • CMS will regard tobacco quitlines that follow evidence-based protocols as an allowable Medicaid administrative activity which can be claimed at the 50% match rate.
  • CMS is encouraging states to actively promote the availability of these benefits.

“This is an historic moment, and one that will play an important role in enabling states to address quitline capacity as we prepare for the 1-800-QUIT-NOW number being placed on warning labels.” Tim McAfee – Director, Office on Smoking and Health

Click here to view the letter from CMS directly to the states.  http://www.cms.gov/smdl/downloads/SMD11-007.pdf

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