Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Few smokers on Medicaid take advantage of smoking-cessation benefits, especially in South

Only 10 percent of adult smokers on Medicaid received tobacco cessation medications in 2013, and ferwer than 5 percent did in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas, says a study by George Washington University. The numbers were especially low in impoverished areas, especially the South, Denise-Marie Ordway reports for Journalist's Resource.

At least 40 percent of adult Medicaid patients in Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia were smokers in 2013, compared to 30 percent nationally. Medicaid spent $103 million nationwide on medication to help smokers quit in 2013. About 26 percent of adults living below the federal poverty line smoke, compared to 17 percent of overall adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers found that "the number of prescriptions for smoking cessation medications rose from almost 1.5 million in 2010 to almost 1.8 million in 2011 and then declined to less than 1.7 million in 2013," Ordway writes. "The authors note that promoting tobacco cessation should be an important policy objective for Medicaid, but medications prescribed to help people quit smoking are 'seriously underused' among Medicaid enrollees in most states." The authors wrote: "Most smokers want to quit but need help both to try and to succeed. The gains from even modest reductions in smoking or from moderate periods of abstinence can be substantial.” (GWU map: Medicaid tobacco cessation levels) 

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