Quitline funding burning up

A public/private partnership might have come up with a way to reignite the services of the state-run Quitline.

The Colorado Quitline, a free smoking cessation program from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, took a 50-percent cut and will only provide services to the uninsured, Medicaid recipients and pregnant women, starting Jan. 1.

The program is paid for with tobacco sales revenue, approved by voters in 2004, but was slashed when the legislature voted to use the money to cover general budget shortfalls.

The package pools the purchasing power of the state’s health plans – required by law to provide smoking cessation programs to clients – and keeps the Quitline available to everyone in the state.

The Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Colorado Access and Denver Health Medical Plan have signed on to the proposal. The deadline to receive the letter from insurance plans is Oct. 31.

The Centers for Disease of Control and Prevention estimates it costs companies more than $3,000 for every smoking employee; $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in excess medical expenditure.