The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2015

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This summer the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) was re-introduced into the legislative process.  It was introduced to the House on May 18th (H.R. 2404) and to the Senate on June 4th, 2015 (S.1509).   Like all bills, this one must be reported by Committee, passed by the Senate, and passed by the House before it is signed into law by the President.

 

Who does it benefit?

Medicare beneficiaries.  As the title reveals, this act targets the obesity epidemic by providing Medicare participants with increased access to weight management care.

 

What are the proposed benefits?

Coverage for weight management care. More specifically, this legislation would enable Medicare benefits to cover intensive behavioral counseling and prescription medications included in weight management therapies.

 

Who could provide the care?

Other than the primary care physician (PCP), a list of other healthcare providers would be able to provide weight management care to Medicare beneficiaries under this act.  Here is the list in the current bill:

  • Physician (other than the PCP)
  • Physician Assistant
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Registered Dietitian or Nutrition Professional
  • An evidence-based, community-based lifestyle counseling program

 

Why now? Why not earlier?

Actually, the TROA was first introduced in 2013.  Strong support was received in both the Senate and House with 121 co-sponsors.  Yet, the legislation did not make it beyond the committee level.

Between 2013-2015 only 15% of the bills that were introduced past committee.  Only 3% of all those bills introduced were actually enacted.

 

How does an idea become a law?

Here is a little refresher about the lawmaking process.  There are nine main steps:

  1. Attention to an issue. A person, group, or organization increases the awareness of an issue and brings it to the attention of a government representative.
  2. Written, submitted, and sponsored. The bill is written by the representative and submitted to the clerk to be assigned a number and printed.  At least one legislative member (from either the House or Senate) must sponsor the bill. This is when the bill is introduced to either the House or Senate.
  3. Referred to committee. The appropriate committee is assigned to the bill.
  4. Subcommittee hearings and markup. The bill is referred to several committees and subcommittees within the House or Senate. These committees vote on whether to continue moving the bill forward or to table it.
  5. Full committee action. Once the bill is approved by the subcommittees it goes back to the full committee for amendments, debate, and a vote.
  6. Full chamber action. If the committee approves the bill, then the full membership of the House or Senate debates, makes amendments, and takes a vote.
  7. Conference committee. A committee with representatives from both the House and Senate work together to resolve differences and amend the two versions of the bill that had been approved separately by both the House and Senate.
  8. Final floor action. The final version approved by the conference committee then goes back to each legislative body for a final vote.
  9. Presidential action. Finally, once the two legislative bodies have passed the bill, it is sent to the President to be signed into law.

 

To make an impact on our community, we must communicate with these policymakers.  There are many steps in which a proposed bill could be stopped and only those with great support make it through.  To stay abreast of policy proceedings that may impact you, go to www.govtrack.us/congress/bills to read about and track bills of interest.  To learn more about TROA, go to www.obesityaction.org/treat-and-reduce-obesity-act.

 

About the Author:

Devon L Golem PhD RD

Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD

Devon is the VAND Professional Education Chair and lives in Charlottesville, VA.  She is the founder and CEO of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals.  Please email her with any questions or comments about the blog at VAND.ProfessionalEducation@gmail.com.