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Expand coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services

Massachusetts' Medicaid program, MassHealth, provides excellent coverage to help smokers and other tobacco users quit. MassHealth's smoking cessation benefit provides full coverage of FDA-approved medicines and counseling to help people quit, for as many times as it takes.

The gap is that people can only access these services through medical providers, even though many tobacco users, especially those in the behavioral health system, have more contact with other types of care providers.  Tobacco Free Mass is working to expand coverage of tobacco cessation services within MassHealth to dentists, behavioral health providers, and others who work with people most affected by tobacco.

Expanding the types of trusted health providers who can offer quitting help to smokers and tobacco users increases access to cessation services and medicines, increasing health equity.

The MassHealth smoking cessation benefit was a huge success when it was introduced in Fiscal Year 2007. It's time to include all care providers, including dentists and behavioral health providers, to ensure that we are reaching everyone who needs help.  Closing the loophole would enable certified professionals in these fields to counsel, and bill for, tobacco cessation for their MassHealth patients.

Status of this priority issue

Senator Jason M. Lewis and Representative Christine P. Barber have filed An Act to provide Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation, Senate Bill 768 and House Bill 1169, respectively. 

The bills were referred to the Healthcare Financing Committee on February 16, 2023. Read Tobacco Free Mass' testimony.

This bill seeks to expand access to the program by allowing trained and approved dentists and behavioral health practitioners to provide cessation counseling to patients on MassHealth, as recommended by the CDC. 

There are many factors that impact whether people smoke--and how likely they are to be able to quit.  Environment, stress, tobacco industry targeting, mental health status, and access to cessation services and medicines are some of the many factors. 

Because of these factors, adults who are insured by MassHealth are twice as likely to smoke (20.5%) than privately insured adults in Massachusetts (10%). (MA BRFSS 2019)

In 2019, the percentage of smokers insured by MassHealth who self-reported poor mental health was 37.7%. (MA BRFSS 2019)  To best reach these smokers, it's essential to let behavioral health providers provide smoking cessation services through MassHealth. 

mailing address:

Tobacco Free Mass

PO Box 1701

Provincetown, MA 02657-5701

(617) 795-4129

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