EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – Between 35 and 40 percent of pregnant women on the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County are smokers and now a local health organization has a new plan to get those mothers-to-be to stop using tobacco.
Trillium Community Health Plan is launching a new tobacco prevention plan for its members. Trillium is the coordinator care organization for Lane County. That means they serve as the medical provider for all of the Oregon Health Plan patients in the area. The Oregon Health Plan is a state-sponsored medical insurance plan for low income residents.
The new tobacco prevention plan is a multi-pronged effort combining intervention counseling and treatment with incentives. The health provider says in terms of intervention, they’ll give doctors new guidelines and tests to identify mothers-to-be who are smokers. The plan is also reducing costs and any pre-authorization barriers toward smoking cessation counseling and treatment options.
One of the biggest parts of the plan is an attempt to incentivize tobacco cessation by offering gift cards and other payouts that will increase in value the longer participants quit smoking. Mothers would be able to be part of the program up to six months after their babies are born. Trillium is investing $180,000 in the tobacco prevention effort over the next year.
“Our task is to do things a little differently and to think outside the box,” said Tara Davee, a member of the Prevention Community Advisory Council that came up with the idea for the incentive program.
Trillium says the program is based on evidence generated by a classroom management tool called The Good Behavior Game, which is designed for elementary schools that have 70 percent or higher rate of their student population enrolled in the free and reduced cost lunch program.
Davee believes the program can produce major results. Coordinators say they’re motivated because of the harm smoking can do to unborn babies and infants. Pregnant smoking leads to about 5 percent of infant deaths and 30 percent of babies born with a low birth weight.
“Women [who] are pregnant are a little more motivated to want to quit and there - just in my opinion - hasn't been much information given to them,” said Davee.
Trillium believes that the program can save enough money to offset the $180,000 it will invest in tobacco cessation.
"Some reports say that for every dollar [spent] on smoking cessation during pregnancy you save $15 throughout the rest of that pregnancy and that life of the infant,” said Holly Jo Hodges, Medical Director at Trillium.
Altogether Trillium is investing about $800,000 in to prevention programs over the next year, targeting smoking, obesity, depression and immunization.