On Monday, February 27, 20107 the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) and dietitians from across the United States met in Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress to advocate for the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) of 2017 and the establishment of a National Obesity Care Week (NOCW). Obesity Advocacy Day attendees were divided into groups and traveled to various legislative offices to meet with Congress men and women to discuss and advocate for the TROA. The TROA consists of two parts which aim to:
- Enhance Medicare beneficiaries’ access to additional qualified healthcare professionals that are best suited to provide Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT)
- Allow Medicare Part D to cover FDA-approved obesity drugs
Currently, CMS coverage for IBT is limited to being provided by a primary care provider in the primary care setting. Because of this narrow coverage, nutrition professionals, endocrinologists, bariatric physicians, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and other specialists are unable to be reimbursed for providing these services. When Congress enacted Medicare Part D, (the Medicare prescription drug program), obesity was not recognized as a disease, but rather a lifestyle condition. Additionally, there were no widely-accepted FDA-approved weight loss medications on the market. It was for these reasons that pharmaceutical weight loss aids were not covered under Medicare Part D. Due to Medicare’s current limitation on providers of IBT and Medicare Part D’s lack of coverage on pharmaceutical weight loss aids, the TROA aims to change these aspects of Medicare coverage. Lastly, the establishment of a NOCW aims to elevate societal awareness of obesity and weight bias as well as facilitate a shift to science-based treatment for those living with obesity. The act proclaims the week of October 29-November 4 as National Obesity Care Week.
About the author: Katie Couch
Katie is currently a dietetic intern at the University of Virginia Health System. She completed her undergraduate degree in Nutrition Science and Master’s degree in Nutrition Science from Auburn University. She enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring her new city of Charlottesville!