OCC Leaders Visit the Office of Secretary Tom Price
On August 17th, Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) leaders Joe Nadglowski, Ted Kyle, Pepin Tuma and Stefanie Rhinehart met with Demetrios Kouzoukas, Principal Deputy Administrator & Director of the Center for Medicare within the Office of Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Dr. Tom Price. The meeting also included key staff from CMS’s Coverage and Advisory Group and the Agency’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.
The August 17th meeting was the first meeting between the new Trump Administration and the obesity community, which focused on key OCC priorities such as healthcare reform and the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act. HHS staff spent nearly an hour with OCC leaders learning about the significant treatment gaps that remain for millions of Americans affected by obesity. The group was extremely pleased with the attention and interest that Secretary Price’s staff brought to the meeting and are hopeful that this is the beginning of a constructive dialogue between the obesity community and the Trump Administration over obesity treatment issues.
August 30th MEDCAC Meeting on Bariatric Therapies
On August 30, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) convened a panel of the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC). The goal the panel meeting was to examine the scientific evidence for health outcomes resulting from bariatric therapies, including open and laparoscopic surgeries and endoscopic procedures, in the Medicare population with obesity. The meeting was also designed to identify evidence gaps related to the treatment of obesity and related co-morbidities with these interventions and discuss efforts aimed at patient-centered care. The obesity community was well represented at the meeting with more than 15 representatives from OCC member groups providing public presentations or public remarks.
Senate HELP Committee Holds Healthcare Reform Hearings
Senate HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) will be holding a series of committee hearings on healthcare reform during September that will feature testimony from state insurance commissioners, patients, governors, health care experts and insurance companies.
Senator Alexander laid out elements of a possible compromise designed to help stabilize the insurance market. Under the compromise, Republicans would agree to continued payment of subsidies to insurance companies to compensate them for reducing deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income people and Democrats would agree to give states freedom to relax some insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act. The odds of such a package being passed by both the House and Senate are very much a major long shot.
Update on Treat and Reduce Obesity Act
Support continues to grow for S 830/HR 1953, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) of 2017, which was introduced by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) and Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (DWI), respectively. At the time of this report, the bill had 98 cosponsors in the House and 7 in the Senate.
This critical legislation will provide Medicare beneficiaries with additional treatment tools to help seniors address their overweight and obesity. Specifically, TROA will provide the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with the authority to expand the Medicare benefit for intensive behavioral counseling by allowing additional types of healthcare providers to offer these services. The legislation would also allow CMS to expand Medicare Part D to provide coverage of FDA-approved prescription drugs for chronic weight management.
Update on National Obesity Care Week
OCC continues to urge legislators to support and cosponsor S. Res. 63/H. Res. 142, a congressional resolution, which would proclaim the week of October 29 through November 4, 2017, as National Obesity Care Week (NOCW). Efforts are also underway to secure resolutions in every state across the country to proclaim that week as “Obesity Care Week.”
September 2017 Newsletter of the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC)