Saturday, August 28, 2010

Medicare to cover smoking cessation (quitting) as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Article from MedPage Today, courtesy of my friend, Dr. Mike Green. This is good news as smoking cessation can be quite costly., according to my patients. Patches, gum and medications are NOT generic...and must be used either daily or weekly.'s to a good thing from health care reform! In addition, evidence-based screening techniques will be completely covered by insurance (ie, colonoscopies, mammograms, etc). That is a win-win situation! 

See below for more on smoking cessation coverage...

WASHINGTON - Good news for seniors who want to quit smoking --
Medicare will now cover tobacco cessation counseling -- the Department
of Health and Human Services announced.

The new coverage was mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which
contains a number of measures that focus on preventing diseases before
they occur, such as paying for cancer screenings, and annual no-cost
wellness checkups.

"For too long, many tobacco users with Medicare coverage were denied
access to evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling," HHS Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement announcing the new benefit.
"Most Medicare beneficiaries want to quit their tobacco use. Now,
older adults and other Medicare beneficiaries can get the help they
need to successfully overcome tobacco dependence."

Of the 46 million Americans who smoke, about 4.5 million are Medicare
beneficiaries over age 65, and another million receive Medicare
benefits because of a disability, according to HHS.

Previously, Medicare only covered smoking cessation counseling if a
recipient had already been diagnosed with a tobacco-related disease or
showed symptoms of such a disease.

All Medicare beneficiaries already have access to smoking-cessation
prescription medication through Medicare's prescription drug program,
Part D.

Under the new coverage -- which applies to Medicare Part A and Part B
-- any Medicare beneficiary who smokes will be able to receive
counseling from a "qualified physician or other Medicare-recognized
practitioner" who can help them quit smoking.

The benefit will cover up to two separate tobacco cessation attempts
per year -- and each stint in stop-smoking counseling can include up
to four sessions.

"Giving older Americans and persons with disabilities who rely on
Medicare the coverage they need for counseling treatments that can aid
them in quitting will have a positive impact on their health and
quality of life," said CMS Administrator Don Berwick, MD, in a
prepared statement. "As a result, all Medicare beneficiaries now have
more help to avoid the painful -- and often deadly -- consequences of
tobacco use."

HHS will issue guidance in the next few months on a Medicaid provision
in the ACA that requires states to help pregnant women quit smoking.

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