It is a shocking fact that in the United States at least one out of every ten pregnant women smokes. That number is even higher for women on Medicaid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that pregnant women on Medicaid are 2.5 times more likely to smoke than pregnant women not on the program.

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke among pregnant women are known to be major causes of miscarriage, stillbirths, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The resources exist to reduce this problem. We just need to target them more specifically.  This is why I introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at helping women on Medicaid stop smoking during pregnancy.

The Smoke-Free Mothers and Babies Act of 2006 amends the Social Security Act to encourage states to provide pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid with access to comprehensive tobacco cessation services. The bill offers states an enhanced “federal medical assistance percentage

This is the right thing to do – both for the health of a mother and child, and for the health of our Medicaid budgets.
Preventing just one smoking-related low birth weight baby can save more than $40,000 in health care expenditures. For every $1 spent on smoking cessation for pregnant women, an estimated $3 in neonatal intensive care costs could be avoided.

Such costs have a disproportionate impact on Medicaid. Neonatal healthcare costs related to smoking are estimated to be $1.4 billion to $2 billion annually. The price paid by Medicaid totals almost $228 million each year.

This year states in the U.S. will collect a record $21.3 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes (an increase from $20 billion in FY2005).  However, they are spending only 2.6 percent of their tobacco revenue on tobacco prevention and cessation.

We have got to do more to reduce this problem and give mothers the tools they need to quit smoking.