State gets grant to help Medicaid patients quit smoking

The state has received a five-year federal grant that will provide as much as $10 million to help Medicaid recipients quit smoking, state officials announced Friday.

The grant award comes as the state prepares to begin covering smoking cessation services through Medicaid in January, becoming one of the last states to do so. The state began covering the services for pregnant women in Medicaid last fall, following a requirement in the federal health reform law.

The grant will help the state launch a program called iQuit, which will encourage smokers and health care providers to participate in counseling and training sessions, peer coaching and other smoking cessation techniques. Smokers will be offered financial incentives to attend the sessions and to reach goals in reducing their tobacco use.

Between 25 and 30 percent of Medicaid recipients currently use tobacco, according to the state Department of Social Services.

DSS, the state Department of Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine and the Hispanic Health Council will participate in the program.

For the first year of the grant, which began this week, the state will receive $730,578.