Post Content

By Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby 

Some of you may have heard the great news last week from George Washington University, which released a study showing that that for every dollar MassHealth spends helping its members quit smoking, it saves the Commonwealth $3.12 in expenses for hospitalizations due to acute cardiovascular conditions. This remarkable return on investment is a victory the Commonwealth at large and reflects the positive impact of Massachusetts health care reform. It also demonstrates that investing in prevention reaps cost savings much sooner than anticipated.

The GW study was based on analyses of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and other previously published health studies.  It estimated cost savings for cardiovascular-related hospitalizations and did not include other costly longer-term illnesses caused by tobacco, such as cancer. A decline in cardiovascular hospitalizations and the associated cost savings were evident just a little over a year after smokers’ use of the benefit.

Clearly, investing in prevention strategies is essential to health care cost containment as we move forward with health care reform in Massachusetts.

MassHealth and the Department of Public Health (DPH) Tobacco Cessation & Prevention Program worked together to design a barrier-free benefit that includes all FDA-approved medications to quit smoking and behavioral counseling.  MassHealth has made this benefit available to its members since July 2006 as part of health care reform.

In making the announcement about this study, Governor Deval Patrick said, “While we have always known that helping people quit smoking is an investment in their health, this study shows that our efforts are also a sound financial investment for the Commonwealth, This represents another positive outcome of health care reform in Massachusetts.”

A major component of the success of this benefit is how MassHealth and DPH promoted it: through radio and transit ads and targeted outreach to MassHealth members and health care professionals. Massachusetts already had smoke-free workplaces, had a relatively high cigarette tax at the time the benefit was introduced, and has cultivated a non-smoking social norm, all of which have contributed to smokers wanting to quit.

The study’s findings are based on an independent assessment conducted by researchers from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, led by Professor Leighton Ku, and funded by Partnership for Prevention, a nonprofit organization that supports evidence-based public health prevention efforts.   The study was published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS One, at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029665.

# # #

 

Written By:

Recent Posts

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month posted on Oct 15

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In 1994, after four years of intense investigation and testimony, Congress concluded  that there was a pervasive problem of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking among women in the United States.  As a result,the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed.  This legislation  was the   …Continue Reading October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month posted on Oct 6

October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month

This month, Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz announced an infant safe sleep campaign focused on the importance of infant safe sleep practices and promoting ways to reduce risks associated with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), the leading cause of death among infants between   …Continue Reading October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month

Statewide Listening Sessions: Services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Late-deafened Adults and Children posted on Sep 25

Statewide Listening Sessions: Services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Late-deafened Adults and Children

Join Heidi Reed, Commissioner of Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), DHILS providers, the Disability Policy Consortium, and the Disability Law Center at a listening session in communities across the Commonwealth to share experiences with state services for deaf, hard of hearing, and late-deafened adults   …Continue Reading Statewide Listening Sessions: Services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Late-deafened Adults and Children