New research by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services indicates that including comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits in Medicaid insurance coverage can result in "substantial" savings for Medicaid programs.

The study found that every dollar spent in program costs resulted in an average program savings of $3.12, which represents a $2.12 return on investment. The research shows that investing in smoking cessation programs can result in lower levels of smoking, which in turn lead to reductions in hospital admissions for heart related problems and significant savings for Medicaid. The financial support for the research came from Partnership for Prevention.

"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States," says Leighton Ku, professor of Health Policy at the GW School of Public Health and Health Services, who led the research project. "Millions of low-income smokers in the U.S. are insured by Medicaid. 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."

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