News Release

April 19, 2010

OHCA Contact: Jo Kilgore, Public Information Manager, (405) 522-7474.

Grant Aims to Reduce Tobacco Use Among Pregnant SoonerCare Members

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) have joined forces to combat tobacco use by pregnant SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) members.

The campaign will have its official kickoff simultaneously in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas. Beginning April 5, practice facilitators will begin working with SoonerCare obstetric providers who serve the largest number of pregnant women in those areas. Practice facilitators will help providers adopt best practices to address tobacco use in pregnancy among their patients. They also will help providers learn how to get reimbursed for tobacco cessation counseling and encourage them to routinely use the benefit with their patients who use tobacco. For providers that serve smaller numbers of pregnant SoonerCare members or those outside the metro locations, a tobacco cessation outreach specialist will provide outreach and education. 

The efforts will be funded through a grant from TSET. OHCA will receive a grant of $695,178 over three years. OHCA will be able to draw a 50 percent administrative match from federal Medicaid funds to match the TSET grant. Services will be provided by the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care, a nationally recognized quality improvement organization. 

“The positive impact of this grant can be far reaching for the health of pregnant women utilizing the SoonerCare program in Oklahoma,” said Tracey Strader, TSET executive director. “The better obstetricians understand the cessation benefits available to SoonerCare participants, how to be reimbursed for asking about tobacco use and how to support those who want to quit, the sooner we will start seeing declines in percent of women who smoke while pregnant and an increase in those who stay quit after the birth of their baby.“

According to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, as recently as 2006 more than 30 percent of Oklahoma’s new mothers smoked during the three months prior to their pregnancies. Nearly one in five pregnant Oklahomans continued to smoke into her third trimester, and 59 percent of women resumed smoking after their babies were born.

In state fiscal year 2008, SoonerCare paid for more than 32,000 Oklahoma births. More than 17 percent of these were births with complications. The average SoonerCare reimbursement for a complicated birth is nearly one and a half times that of the average cost for an uncomplicated delivery. Neonatal conditions caused by tobacco use during pregnancy have been estimated at $5.7 million annually in Oklahoma.

“Offering support to expectant mothers who are trying to quit using tobacco is a significant way we can help them give their babies the best possible start in life. We are grateful for the funding that will allow us to make this critical contribution to healthy pregnancies and deliveries,” said Dr. Lynn Mitchell, state Medicaid director.

For more information about TSET, please visit their Web site at To learn more about the SoonerCare program, please visit