Insurers step up to pay for Quitline

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Seven insurance companies have agreed to pay for their members to use Quitline, the state-sponsored smoking cessation program.

The agreement will effectively save the program because the state’s budget crunch caused its budget to be slashed.

Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, Humana, Cigna, Denver Health Medical Plans, Colorado Access and Rocky Mountain Health Plans will pay for members.

QuitLine’s funding was dependent on Amendment 35, which retained a sales tax on tobacco products to pay for health initiatives.

The program is overseen by the State Tobacco and Partnership Program, which had its $26 million budget cut by $15 million after Colorado lawmakers approved a bill that let officials transfer revenue from state tobacco sales to cover recession-driven shortfalls in the state’s budget.

The cuts meant QuitLine would have been able to only serve uninsured people, pregnant women (regardless of insurance coverage) and Medicaid recipients, said Deb Osborne, STEPP’s director of cessation initiatives.

Before the state budget cuts go into effect Jan. 1, QuitLine will change the procedures in its hotline so that people who are insured by participating plans will be triaged for billing purposes.