April 2018 Newsletter of the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC)
Prepared by Christopher Gallagher, OCC Washington Coordinator
OCAN Member Groups Comment regarding USPSTF Draft Recommendations on Behavioral Weight Loss Interventions
On March 19, 2018, 15 members groups of the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) submitted a joint comment letter to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) regarding the Task Force’s February 20th draft recommendation statement on “Behavioral Weight Loss Interventions to Prevent Obesity-Related Morbidity and Mortality in Adults.”
Citing the critical need for a multidisciplinary treatment approach to obesity following diagnosis, OCAN urged the USPSTF to amend its formal recommendation statement to: “The USPSTF recommends that clinicians offer or refer adults with obesity for evidence-based treatments including: intensive multi-component behavioral interventions, obesity pharmacotherapy, and surgery.”
Additionally, OCAN raised concerns over the Task Force’s assessment regarding obesity pharmacotherapy and the lack of consideration of bariatric surgery as a treatment option. Finally, OCAN groups urged the USPSTF to universally accept the use of people-first language throughout its scientific documents and statements.
OCAN Developing Comments on Short-Term, Limited-Duration Health Plans
At the time of this report, the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) was developing comments in response to the February 21, 2018 proposed regulations that the Trump Administration released regarding short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans. According to the proposed regulations, the rule would amend the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance to include those offering a maximum coverage period of less than 12 months and that “this action is being taken to lengthen the maximum period of short-term, limited-duration insurance, which will provide more affordable consumer choice for health coverage.”
OCAN is likely to raise concern that expansion of these types of insurance products could have a chilling effect on patient access to care in the individual health insurance market as the target for these plans will be predominantly young and healthy individuals. Proliferation of these short-term health plans will lead to adverse selection and significantly raise the cost of coverage for people affected by obesity or other serious chronic health conditions. Additionally, short-term, limited-duration health plans are not subject to the key patient protections encompassed under the Affordable Care Act, such as minimum coverage standards and rules that prohibit medical underwriting, rescissions, pre-existing condition exclusions, and lifetime and annual limits.
To learn more about short-term, limited-duration health plans, click here to see the Kaiser Family Foundation’s issue brief on the subject.
FDA Releases Benefit-Risk Assessment in Drug Regulatory Decision-Making
In late March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an updated implementation plan, “Benefit-Risk Assessment in Drug Regulatory Decision-Making.” The plan provides an overview of the steps the agency has taken since 2013 to enhance benefit-risk assessment in human drug review, including implementation of the FDA’s Benefit-Risk Framework (BRF) into its drug regulatory review processes and documentation, along with FDA’s commitment to initiate a third-party evaluation of its BRF implementation.
The plan also outlined the agency’s commitment to enhance and communicate benefit-risk assessment, including participating in a meeting to gather stakeholder input. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb touted that the agency’s implementation efforts have provided clarity and consistency in communicating the reasoning behind the FDA’s drug regulatory decisions, while helping integrate the patient’s perspective into drug development and regulatory decision-making. At the time of this report, the obesity community was drafting comments regarding the draft plan.
Bariatric Surgery Pilot for Georgia State Employees Fails to Pass
The Georgia State legislature adjourned on March 29, 2018, without passing House Bill 647 — legislation that would have resurrected a pilot program to provide coverage of bariatric surgery for state employees. The legislation was sponsored by Representative Katie Dempsey (R-GA-13) and was strongly supported by both the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the American College of Surgeons’ State Chapters.