Before today’s decision, Medicare had covered tobacco counseling only for individuals diagnosed with a recognized tobacco-related disease or showed signs or symptoms of such a disease. Under the new coverage, any smoker covered by Medicare will be able to receive tobacco cessation counseling from a qualified physician or other Medicare-recognized practitioner who can work with them to help them stop using tobacco. All Medicare beneficiaries will continue to have access to smoking-cessation prescription medication through the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Part D).
“For too long, many tobacco users with Medicare coverage were denied access to evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Most Medicare beneficiaries want to quit their tobacco use. Now, older adults and other Medicare beneficiaries can get the help they need to successfully overcome tobacco dependence.”
“Today’s decision builds on the existing preventive services that are available to Medicare beneficiaries,” said CMS Administrator Don Berwick, M.D. “Giving older Americans and persons with disabilities who rely on Medicare the coverage they need for counseling treatments that can aid them in quitting will have a positive impact on their health and quality of life. As a result, all Medicare beneficiaries now have more help to avoid the painful-and often deadly-consequences of tobacco use.”
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