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Quit smoking: free nicotine replacement therapy available

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News from Lake County Health Department

LAKE COUNTY — The Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2010, initiated changes to private health insurance plans and all Medicaid programs requiring that preventative medical services be covered. Included in this preventative medicine approach is tobacco cessation coverage. Preventing and reducing chronic disease, like those that can result from smoking and/or chewing tobacco, makes sense in many ways, not only for the health of the individual but to also help keep in check rising medical insurance costs that we all bear.

Those on Medicaid who would like to quit smoking or chewing tobacco can talk to their medical provider about cessation services covered under the Medicaid plan. The Montana Tobacco Quit Line, at 1-800- QUIT-NOW, offers up to eight weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy for those who choose to incorporate NRT therapy. There are also several other great medication discounts through the Quit Line. When you call the Quit Line, a cessation coach will help to determine the best kind of NRT for you. It is always a good idea to follow up with your pharmacist and/or provider to help with dosage, any unpleasant side effects and any other concerns you may have.

Lake County also has a higher percentage of women who smoke during pregnancy, with a rate of 26.2 percent in 2013, compared to the state average of about 17 percent, according to Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Office of Epidemiology and Scientific Support.

The ACA recognizes how crucial it is to provide pregnant women on Medicaid the help they need to quit smoking. Most of us are aware of the major health complications smoking during pregnancy can cause. In women who smoke during and after pregnancy, they are more likely to experience miscarriages, problems with the placenta, babies born too small, babies who have birth defects such as cleft lip or palate, babies who have more colds, ear infections, asthma attacks and even SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

The Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program now offers a free, confidential Pregnancy and Postpartum Program with extended benefits. The program provides nine coaching calls with a personal quit coach during pregnancy and after delivery; six weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy (available for qualified individuals over 18 who are enrolled in the program, prescription required during pregnancy and postpartum if breastfeeding); and six additional weeks of free NRT postpartum. Text messaging services will also be available postpartum as a reminder to reconnect with the quit line. And, with continued participation, participants will also receive a small reward card for each completed call.

To be eligible, callers must enroll in cessation services with the Montana Tobacco Quit Line by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or going to Also, on the American Lung Association’s website, Medicaid benefits for each state in regards to tobacco cessation can be found. Currently, Montana Medicaid members are covered for two quit attempts per year.

So, with benefits like these available, what are you waiting for? Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.

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