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Maryland: Smoking Stops at the Quitline - With Help from Medicaid

Smoking Stops Here! This message is the driving force behind the work of the Maryland Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which is administered by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control (CTPC). The Quitline offers free, confidential evidence based counseling, and offers a four week supply of free nicotine patches or gum to eligible participants. About 30 percent of Quitline participants are enrolled in Medicaid. With the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion, Maryland participants now have even more support and options to sustain their quit. Maryland Medicaid now covers all prescription and over-the-counter tobacco cessation medications. In Maryland, Medicaid matching funds are also used to help support the Quitline so that services can be made available to more Marylanders eager to quit tobacco. And it works! A recent evaluation found that Marylanders who use the Quitline had quit rates seven times higher than the average rate of non-assisted quits.

Dawn Berkowitz, Center Director of CTPC, praises the partnership with Medicaid: “By working together, and with additional Medicaid funding, we can serve more residents, offering them all the tools they may need to quit tobacco.” CTPC also helps support the Maryland Quitting Use and Initiation of Tobacco (MDQuit) Resource Center located at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. MDQuit delivers training to health care providers and oversees the Quitline’s Fax To Assist Program, which gives providers an easy way to refer their patients to the Quitline. Referred patients receive a call from a Quitline Coach within 48 hours, and providers get information about the outcomes of the counseling as well as the medication patients receive.

Dora Frank is a nurse practitioner with the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Digestive Health Center. Patients seen in the clinic suffer from gastrointestinal disorders such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohns Disease), conditions that are exacerbated by smoking. She says the Quitline makes it easy for her to get patients the reinforcement they need to successfully quit smoking. “So many of my patients want to quit,” says Frank, “but they don’t know how to approach it. The Quitline gets them over obstacles they have been facing – like lack of access to medications and products.” How do patients feel when they successfully quit smoking? “They’re free,” says Frank. “They’re relieved that smoking doesn’t control them anymore.”

To learn more about how Medicaid can play a role in reducing smoking, check out an in-depth discussion on Tobacco Cessation. This page includes the latest data on the impact of smoking on Medicaid budgets and showcases recent research and state experiences, like the Quitline.

Messages from CMCS
Donna Cohen Ross, Senior Policy Advisor/Director of Enrollment Initiatives
Author Facet


Collections: Messages from CMCS