Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Key Partnership senior staff are on hand at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) annual legislative summit being held this year in Louisville, Kentucky, July 25-July 28.  Partnership’s Government Affairs team worked closely with the NCSL Health Committee to host a special tobacco cessation briefing for state legislators and their staff members from across the country.  The briefing focused on the impact the Massachusetts Medicaid program experienced when it offered and promoted a comprehensive tobacco cessation benefit.  Although data is still being analyzed, the preliminary results are very promising.

Richard T. Moore, Senate Chairman of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and incoming NCSL President told the audience that:

  1. Within just one year, users of the smoking cessation benefit had dramatic reductions in hospitalizations for heart attacks, declines in emergency and clinic visits for asthma, and a significant decrease in acute birth complications.
  2. In the first two and a half years of the benefit over 75,000 MassHealth members have tried to quit smoking.  This represents 40 percent of smokers on MassHealth, a level unprecedented in the nation.
  3. Researchers from the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program found that up to 38 percent fewer MassHealth cessation benefit users were hospitalized for heart attacks in the first year after using the benefit and 17 percent fewer benefit users visited the emergency room for asthma symptoms in the first year after using the benefit.
  4. Researchers also found that there were 17 percent fewer claims for adverse maternal birth complications since the benefit was implemented.
In addition, the briefing included an important presentation from the MassHealth Deputy Medical Director Roger L. Snow, MD, MPH.  Dr. Snow reviewed the history of the MassHealth benefit and credited Senator Moore for having the vision to recognize that the availability and utilization of a comprehensive benefit could save lives and help control spending in the Medicaid program.  At Senator Moore’s urging, the legislature directed MassHealth to expand upon the Mass Department of Public Health’s limited telephone consultation service and adopt a comprehensive cessation benefit.
A copy of Dr. Snow’s slides can be viewed here.
Please be sure to check back to the prevent.org web site next week to see a video of the entire NCSL briefing and discussion “Cessation Saves Lives.”
Ripley Forbes
Director, Government Affairs
Partnership for Prevention


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