Is Smoking Cessation Therapy Coverage Affected by Medicaid Policies?

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States could increase access to smoking cessation medications by reducing barriers to coverage.
States could increase access to smoking cessation medications by reducing barriers to coverage.

HealthDay News — Medicaid policies, such as those that require patients to obtain counseling in order to receive smoking cessation medications, affect use of these medications, according to a study published in the October 27 issue of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Preventing Chronic Disease.

Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, from George Washington University in Washington DC, and colleagues used 2-way fixed effects models to examine the effects of changes in state policies and characteristics on state-level use of Medicaid tobacco cessation medications. Data were reviewed from 2010 through 2014.

The researchers observed a one-quarter to one-third reduction in the use of cessation medications with Medicaid policies that require patients to obtain counseling in order to receive medications. Usage was increased by about one-quarter to one-third in states that cover all types of cessation medications. Use levels were not affected by non-Medicaid policies.

"States could increase efforts to quit by developing more comprehensive coverage and reducing barriers to coverage," the authors write. "Reductions in barriers could bolster smoking cessation rates, and the costs would be small compared with the costs of treating smoking-related diseases. Innovative initiatives to help smokers quit could improve health and reduce health care costs."

Reference

Ku L, Brantley E, Bysshe T, Steinmetz E, Bruen BK. How Medicaid and other public policies affect use of tobacco cessation therapy, United States, 2010-2014. Prev Chronic Dis. 2016;13:160234. doi: 10.5888/pcd13.160234

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