Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a new measure, which is still preliminary, that would expand coverage for evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling for all Medicare recipients. Current Medicare language limits reimbursement for tobacco cessation counseling to patients who have a tobacco-related disease.

The CMS has set a period of time for Public Comments on the proposed determination, after which they will issue a final decision. This period ends June 27, 2010. Partnership for Prevention urges you to offer your own public comment in support of tobacco cessation counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. It’s easy to do – just click on this link, then click on the orange “Comment” button at the top. Type in the box whatever you see fit to communicate about this matter.

As an example, here’s what I wrote in my message to the CMS this morning:

I am writing to express my strong support for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed decision to extend tobacco cessation counseling to all Medicare beneficiaries. It is Partnership for Prevention's position that this policy will help many tobacco users break free from a deadly behavior, people who otherwise would have been unable to do so. Undoubtedly, many lives will be extended and much money saved if this decision is enacted.

Not only is tobacco cessation counseling a Grade A rated recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, it is also received the highest ranking by Partnership for Prevention's National Commission on Prevention Priorities. In that review, physician tobacco cessation counseling was one of only three clinical preventive services to receive the highest score for cost and prevention effectiveness.

I urge the CMS to move forward with this critical public health measure when the public comment period has concluded. The entire Medicare community deserves to benefit from this service, not only those who have been diagnosed with a tobacco related illness. After all, that's what prevention is all about.

It is important that the CMS hears from constituents who support disease prevention, health promotion, and tobacco cessation. If enacted, this measure represents a lifesaving advance in our capacity to guarantee that all tobacco users have access to evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling. A significant public health benefit will be realized.

David Zauche
Senior Program Officer
Partnership for Prevention


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