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UW-CTRI Helps Low-Income Smokers in Marshfield Area Quit

You could say that Laurie Groskopf, UW-CTRI outreach specialist, is on a mission. A former smoker, she’s driven to eliminate barriers preventing other smokers from beating their addiction. If she could, she’d drop kick those barriers like Sydney Bristow, the CIA agent on the hit TV show “Alias.” But Laurie knows patience and collaboration are needed for progress, so she has developed allies within healthcare systems and coalitions and has worked with them to help smokers quit.

Perhaps none of those allies have been more key than Eva Scheppa, RN Clinical Services Manager for Marshfield Clinic’s Family Health Centers, and Julie Wallace, Tobacco Health Educator for Security Health Plan, a HMO owned and operated by Marshfield Clinic. Eva, Julie and Laurie are a dynamic trio that has convinced the Marshfield Clinic System to expand stop-smoking services in a number of ways.  

Laurie Groskopf, Eva Scheppa and Julie Wallace discuss new posters they developed that include tear sheets for smokers with information to help them quit.
Laurie Groskopf, Eva Scheppa and Julie Wallace discuss new posters they developed that include tear sheets for smokers with information to help them quit.

Providing Insurance Coverage for the Nicotine Lozenge
Perhaps their biggest achievement was securing the nicotine lozenge as a covered health insurance benefit for 27,000 low-income patients in north-central Wisconsin. This includes Medicaid and BadgerCare patients as well as individuals who receive primary healthcare through federal grants.

Eva presented the business case for covering the lozenge to Marshfield Clinic System management. “Laurie gives me outstanding data on the cost-effectiveness of stop-smoking treatments,” Eva said. “That’s important because you can’t just say, ‘It’s important.’ You have to say why. The healthcare costs are system-wide. Maybe we wouldn’t see people three times a year for bronchitis if we help them quit.

“Laurie helped by telling people the same thing I’m telling them,” Eva said.

System-wide Efforts
Laurie and Kris Hayden, UW-CTRI outreach specialist in western Wisconsin, serve on a committee to improve stop-smoking services at Marshfield Clinic, which has about 2 million patient encounters a year.

Eva is pushing to provide financial and other incentives to Marshfield physicians, medical examiners and nurses to boost the number that ask about tobacco dependence at every visit and treat it as a disease.

“That would give us a big bang for our buck,” Eva said. Laurie has provided background information to support that effort.

To schedule interviews with this or other UW-CTRI representatives, contact Gloria Meyer (608-265-4447 or GKM@ctri.medicine.wisc.edu) or Chris Hollenback (608-262-3902 or CH3@ctri.medicine.wisc.edu).

© 2014 UW-CTRI