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A new study finds that investing in comprehensive tobacco cessation programs can result in substantial savings for Medicaid programs. These programs, by cutting smoking rates, lead to reduced hospital admissions for heart-related problems, UPI reports.

Researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services found every dollar spent in smoking cessation program costs led to an average savings of $3.12.

“Millions of low-income smokers in the U.S. are insured by Medicaid,” said lead author Leighton Ku, PhD in a news release. “In 2004, smoking-related Medicaid expenditures for all states combined was $22 billion, which represented 11 percent of all Medicaid spending. Investments in comprehensive tobacco cessation services in Medicaid can improve the health of patients, as well as save money for states and the federal government.”

The researchers calculated that a smoking cessation program in Massachusetts that offered a wide range of smoking cessation medications, as well as individual and group counseling for Medicaid recipients, saved an average of $388 per user per year. They noted that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will add millions of new Medicaid recipients in 2014, and tobacco cessation services in Medicaid could be offered to a much larger proportion of the low-income smoking population.

The findings appear in the journal PloS ONE.

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