Reply To Discussion On The Treat And Reduce Obesity Act Of 2019

As part of the Obesity Care Advocacy Network, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics collaborated with its partners to develop a bill to tackle the obesity epidemic by expanding Medicare coverage to include additional qualified practitioners and FDA-approved medications for patients with obesity.

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2019 is a bipartisan, bicameral bill introduced in the 116th Congress for the fourth time in the last 7 years. This bill would amend the Social Security Act to enable the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to enhance beneficiary access to the most qualified existing Medicare providers of intensive behavioral therapy for obesity (IBT), resulting in decreased health care costs and lower obesity rates among older adults.

Our nation is paying the price for overlooking the importance of food and nutrition-related diseases. Obesity accounts for 21% of total national health care spending, summing to as much as $210 billion annually. Medicare and Medicaid patients with obesity cost the government $61.8 billion per year; eradicating obesity would result in an 8.5% savings in Medicare spending (Finkelstein 2009).   Obesity places an enormous financial burden on American families, our economy, and our nation’s healthcare system.

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act offers clinically and cost-effective solutions to the obesity epidemic by ensuring that Medicare patients have access to the best possible care at only a fraction of the cost. The bill removes unnecessary barriers, which would allow a variety of qualified practitioners, such as registered dietitians, to effectively treat obesity through intensive behavioral therapy (IBT). The bill also authorizes coverage for FDA-approved weight loss medications that complement IBT.

References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, (nd). Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2019. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightpro.org/-/media/eatrightpro-files/advocacy/troaleavebehind2019.pdf?la=en&hash=C9475EE14EAEB24308E5EECBD99E67DDAA58AF7C

Finkelstein et al. “Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity: Payer- and Service-Specific Estimates.” Health Affairs, 28, no. 5 (2009). 27 July. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/28/5/w822.full.pdf+html

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