Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Medicaid Launches New Tobacco Cessation Benefit for Members

Press Release Date:  Monday, October 04, 2010  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Jill Midkiff

Program Requires Screening, Counseling to Help Smokers Kick the Habit

FRANKFORT, Ky.- Gov. Steve Beshear announced today that the state’s Medicaid recipients are now eligible for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and tobacco cessation medications to assist more Medicaid recipients in giving up smoking and tobacco use and reduce the rate of tobacco-related illnesses in Kentucky.

As part of the program, Medicaid recipients who receive NRT or prescriptions for tobacco cessation drugs will be required to enroll in counseling programs that assist those who are trying to kick the habit.

“Quitting smoking or the use of other tobacco products is one of the most important lifestyle changes an individual can make when it comes to health and wellbeing,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our hope is that people will think about the effects of tobacco on their health and give some serious consideration to quitting. This is a great opportunity for Medicaid recipients to stop smoking or using tobacco, start living healthier lifestyles and create a healthier environment in their homes – which will ultimately save lives and precious health care dollars.”

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States as well as Kentucky. Nearly 8,000 Kentuckians die prematurely each year of tobacco use. Specifically, smoking is a major risk factor for the four leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic pulmonary disease.

“Death and chronic disease related to smoking and tobacco use are tragic not only because of their impact on health and mortality, but also because they could have been prevented,” said Janie Miller, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “This is definitely a step in the right direction to help more people quit smoking and start leading healthier, longer lives.”

Under the new program, the Medicaid recipient is given a tobacco cessation assessment by a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or a physician assistant. During the assessment, the provider compiles a medical and psychosocial history of the recipient, assesses the recipient’s tobacco usage, readiness/willingness to quit, coping skills, barriers to quitting, and completes a tobacco cessation program referral form for the recipient. Exceptions to the counseling requirement can be granted to members with valid hardships or if the provider deems it unnecessary.

The recipient then will select a smoking cessation program, such as the Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line or Cooper-Clayton Smoking Cessation course, in which to enroll, and NRT products or other tobacco cessation medications will be prescribed by the provider, if necessary.

“In our experience, people have the most success with quitting when they have access to a combination of resources and support,” said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner William Hacker, M.D. “This new program offers both to Medicaid recipients. Programs like this help more people understand the effects of tobacco and gives them the opportunity and support they need to quit.”

The Kentucky General Assembly allocated $1.5 million in state funds for each both Fiscal Year 2011 and 2012 to implement the program. Federal matching funds are projected to equal $4.7 million in Fiscal Year 2011 and $3.7 million in Fiscal Year 2012.