By Bob Katzen

The Health Care Financing Committee’s agenda also included a hearing on proposals requiring the state to cover the expenses of programs for smoking and tobacco use cessation treatment and information by people on MassHealth—the state’s Medicaid program that provides health care for low-income and disabled persons.

Rep. Christine Barber (D-Somerville), House sponsor of the proposal said she wants to expand the commonwealth’s commitment to assisting people to stop smoking. “Right now, health plans under MassHealth provide tobacco cessation coverage, but we want to put this requirement into law to make sure it continues,” said Barber. “In addition, the bill would add behavioral health counselors and dentists, providers who see a lot of patients who use tobacco, as people who can provide cessation services. With the rapid increase in tobacco use through vaping and other products, I want to ensure that Massachusetts supports people who want to quit.”

“Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the commonwealth and is responsible for more than $4 billion in healthcare costs annually,” said Sen. Jason Lewis, the Senate sponsor of the proposal. “It is vital that we provide comprehensive cessation benefits through all insurance plans, so that tobacco users can get help quitting. This legislation will strengthen existing MassHealth tobacco cessation benefits.”

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