Many of the health disparities in the US are linked to income. In general… the lower a family’s income the greater the prevalence of health disparities. Health impacts from smoking cigarettes are no exception. Arizonans below the poverty line (100% of FPL) are 40% more likely to smoke than those with more money… and about 34% of Arizona folks who receive their health insurance through Medicaid smoke. This higher smoking rate results in a cascade of negative health impacts over the course of a lifetime. BTW… less than 7% of Arizonans that make over $75K smoke.
For the last few months our Tobacco and Chronic Disease team has been working with AHCCCS to get the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow us to claim the 50% federal administrative match rate for the Arizona Smokers Helpline (the ASHLine) for the smoking cessation services that we provide to AZ Medicaid beneficiaries.
Last month we were successful! CMS approved the reimbursement for Federal Financial Participation for our Quitline Administrative Expenditures. The reimbursement will come from CMS to AHCCCS and then back to us and then back to the ASHLine. Arizona is only the 10th state to receive approval to reimburse Quitline services for Medicaid folks. A shout out to Courtney Ward for making this happen!
Establishing this public-public partnership with Medicaid is critical to ensuring access to evidence-based cessation treatments for a population disparately impacted by tobacco’s harm. This financial match coupled with our efforts to entice new partnerships with health plans and employers will help to address and provide tobacco cessation services for this AZ Winnable Battle.