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Turner Bill to Expand Medicaid to Cover Tobacco Cessation Clears Committee

TRENTON Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, which would expand Medicaid coverage to include comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits, cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

“Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare recipients are more than twice as likely to smoke than individuals with private insurance,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “This is not only costly for the smokers, but also for the state due to the endless health conditions that often go along with tobacco use. This bill will not only save money, but it also has the potential to save lives and ultimately create a healthier New Jersey.”

The bill, S-2081, would expand the state Medicaid program to include tobacco cessation treatment such as brief and high-intensity individual and group counseling, as well as telemedicine. It would also cover all medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for tobacco cessation.

When Massachusetts implemented a similar program in 2006, it saw a 10 percent decrease in the smoking rate. Every dollar spent on the program resulted in $3.12 in savings for cardiovascular conditions alone.

Information regarding the availability of tobacco cessation products and services would be provided to all eligible individuals. The bill would take effect immediately.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 12-0 and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.