CMS will help smokers kick the habit
WASHINGTON -- Medicare's upcoming prescription drug benefit will cover smoking cessation treatments prescribed by a physician, CMS announced in late March. Researchers estimate that smoking accounts for about 10% of the total cost of the Medicare program or about $20.5 billion in 1997. On average, nonsmokers survived 1.6-3.9 years longer than those who have never smoked."Millions of Medicare beneficiaries have smoked for many years and are now experiencing the heart problems, respiratory problems, and many other often-fatal diseases that smoking can cause," said CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D.. "It's really hard to quit, but we are going to do everything we can to help." The coverage decision, which was proposed for public comment in December, involves Medicare beneficiaries who have an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use.