A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Great American Healthup

Great American Healthup

November 18, 2009

Massachusetts does it again! By thinking outside the box, the state has provided accessible tools for MassHealth adults to quit smoking, and the program has seen unprecedented success.

Today, on the eve of the Great American Smokeout, the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program held and event at the State House to release data showing the significant health impact of the MassHealth cessation benefit.

Nurses’ Hall was packed with legislators, advocates, consumers, and press who listened as Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach shared the highlights of the research. The results are impressive, and demonstrate that investing in good health policy reduces health care costs quickly. The research shows that 77% of adult smokers in Massachusetts want to quit. Over the course of only two months, nearly 10,000 Massachusetts residents requested the free nicotine patches offered by MTCP in 2008 after the cigarette tax increase.

Research shows that with the appropriate support and medication, smokers are more than twice as likely to successfully quit. As the Globe reported on the front page today, about 75,000 people on MassHealth have used smoking cessation treatment and 33,000 have been able to successfully quit. MTPC highlights further ways the state has saved money among MassHealth adults by providing a cessation benefit:

  • 38% decrease in hospitalizations for heart attacks;
  • 17% drop in emergency room and clinic visits due to asthma; and there were
  • 17% fewer claims for adverse maternal birth complications since implementation.

This relieves a heavy burden on the state – in Massachusetts alone, tobacco use costs $4.3 billion in health care costs every year. MassHealth cessation benefits have made history by sharply reducing smoking rates, costs, and health outcomes in the course of a year.
-Courtney Chelo