Turner Bill to Expand Medicaid to Cover Tobacco Cessation Clears Committee

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TRENTON Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner which would expand Medicaid coverage to include comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

“Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare beneficiaries are more than twice as likely to smoke than people 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 seemingly endless health conditions that go along with tobacco use. This bill will not just save money, but has the potential to save lives and 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, group, and phone counseling. It would also cover nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, and all other 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.

With today’s 7-0 vote the bill clears committee, and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.