March 23, 2005

CRAPO: SENIORS TO GET HELP TO QUIT SMOKING

Smoking cessation products to be covered under new Medicare benefit

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, co-Chairman and founder of the Congressional COPD (Cardiopulmonary Obstructive Disease) Caucus, applauded the decision from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to add smoking cessation counseling and coverage for its beneficiaries. Smoking cessation products will be covered under the new Medicare drug benefit program starting next year if they are prescribed by a physician. â??Too many of our Medicare dollars are being spent to treat illnesses created or exacerbated by the smoking habit,â?? Crapo said. â??These illnesses could be much more effectively treated through preventative measures. Since the bulk of Medicare spending goes to such diseases, this change will end up saving money and improving the lives for those seniors who want to quit smoking. Since its formation, the COPD Caucus made this issue one of its priorities. I am pleased that CMS has responded to this concern and taken another step toward improving the health and lives of seniors.â?? Under the decision announced, a Medicare beneficiary must have an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use. Such illnesses would include cardiovascular disease, lung disease, weak bones, blood clots and cataracts. Seniors who take medications for diabetes, high blood pressures, blood clots and depression are also eligible because tobacco use reduces the effectiveness of the medications used to treat those conditions. It is estimated that nearly 10 percent of Americans 65 and older smoke cigarettes. Approximately 300,000 of those will die annually from smoking-related disease. The final Medicare decision is available on the CMS website at https://www.cms.gov/coverage/.