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NAQC Signs Letter to CMS

Thursday, June 17, 2010  
Update and Request for Your Action on Proposed CMS Decision Memo

Currently, Medicare only provides coverage for counseling to prevent tobacco use in beneficiaries (e.g., senior citizens) who already have a disease or adverse health effect from tobacco use. On May 28, CMS proposed an expansion of coverage for cessation services to hospitalized and outpatient Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries would be covered for two individual tobacco cessation attempts per year and up to four counseling sessions at each attempt. The counseling sessions may be intermediate (more than 3 minutes) or intensive (more than 10 minutes), as determined by the practitioner and patient.

CMS has asked for public comments on the decision by June 28, 2010. NAQC plans to submit comments and encourages members to submit individual comments as well. NAQC’s comments will focus on two topics:
  1. We support the expansion of coverage to all Medicaid beneficiaries who use tobacco, and agree that covering two quit attempts on an annual basis is adequate. This is consistent with our comments to CMS in January 2005; see letter and materials on our Cessation Services page.
  2. We encourage CMS to include quitlines services within its expanded cessation coverage for Medicare. Medicare coverage is contingent upon a determination that a service meets a benefit category, is not specifically excluded from coverage, and the item or service is ‘‘reasonable and necessary.’’
NAQC will distribute its comments to members the week of June 21. The full CMS decision memo and link for submitting comments are available online.

Update on Medicaid Reimbursement for Quitlines

On June 14, 2010, NAQC joined with 35 other public health organizations to submit a letter to CMS expressing strong support for permitting states to obtain federal Medicaid matching funds for the cost of tobacco cessation services provided by quitlines. Gaining matching funds is a key strategy for making quitlines more sustainable. NAQC plans to follow-up with CMS on this issue and will keep members apprised of progress. Please let us know if you have any feedback on this issue.
» read letter

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