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June 19, 2013

Obesity Community Supports the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2013

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On June 19, 2013, U.S. Senators, Tom Carper (D-DE) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and U.S. Representatives, Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Ron Kind (D-WI), introduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act. “This legislation will provide Medicare recipients and their healthcare providers with meaningful tools to treat and reduce obesity by improving access to obesity screening and counseling services, and new prescription drugs for chronic weight management,” said Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, Vice-Chairman of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) Board of Directors and Chair of The Obesity Society’s Advocacy Committee.

Specifically, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to highlight and provide additional information regarding Medicare coverage of intensive behavioral counseling for the disease of obesity for seniors and their doctors. This legislation also gives CMS the authority to enhance beneficiary access to the new Medicare benefit for intensive behavioral counseling services by allowing additional types of health care providers to offer these services. Finally, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act allows CMS to provide coverage of prescription drugs under Medicare Part D for chronic weight management to individuals who are affected by obesity, or excess weight (classified as “overweight” according to body mass index) with one or more co-morbidities.

“Evidence-based literature clearly demonstrates that people affected by obesity can substantially improve their health and quality of life when they have access to a continuum of medically necessary treatment – including behavioral, nutritional, pharmaceutical, psychosocial and surgical treatment,” said Laurie Traetow, Executive Director of the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA). “Even a 5-10 percent weight loss produces clinically significant reductions in risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, mental illness, lipid disorders, sleep apnea, and certain cancers.”

“Similar to many other medical conditions, obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease, requiring a multidisciplinary treatment approach. This approach must encompass the best standards of care, both in terms of the treatments chosen, and the care coordination and clinical environment in which they are delivered. Because of the complex nature of obesity and its variety of impacts on both physical and mental health, effective treatment requires the coordinated services of providers from several disciplines and professions (both physician and non-physician) within both of these treatment areas,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO. “Passage of this landmark legislation will address a number of key hurdles to Medicare recipients receiving critical medically necessary obesity treatment services.”

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