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Reps. Wenstrup and Ruiz Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Cover Obesity Treatment in Medicare

Washington, D.C. - Today Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) reintroduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA,) legislation to address the growing obesity epidemic by expanding access to treatment options for eligible Medicare beneficiaries. They were joined by Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI.) Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) reintroduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is prevalent in over 40% of adults aged 60 and older. The National Institute of Health attributes obesity to an increase in risk for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and certain cancers.

This bill would expand which health care providers can bill Medicare for intensive behavioral therapy related to obesity to include clinical psychologists, registered dietitians, or nutrition professionals if the patient is referred to these new health care providers by a physician. This legislation would also allow medications that are FDA-approved to treat obesity to be covered under Medicare Part D.

"As a physician, the prevalence of obesity in our country deeply concerns me. I believe it is important that we work to keep Americans healthier for longer, and when patients go without obesity treatment, which is multi-faceted, it is more difficult to treat later down the line," said Dr. Brad Wenstrup. "By tackling obesity head on, we can better prevent numerous additional diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, helping lengthen Americans' health spans while also saving taxpayer and Medicare dollars over the long run."

“Obesity is a complex chronic disease and a public health epidemic that costs our nation billions of dollars. As an Emergency Physician, I cared for many patients with complications from diabetes and cardiovascular diseases that stemmed from their obesity,” said Dr. Raul Ruiz“The bipartisan Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, would help seniors who suffer from obesity gain Medicare coverage and access to vital medications and behavioral therapies that would help them live a healthier and longer life.”

“There is a clear need to address obesity,” said Dr. Bill Cassidy. “Expanding Medicare coverage to the treatments patients need enables them to improve their health and benefits us all.”

“With obesity rates on the rise in our country, we must do more to combat this epidemic head on. Too many of those in need are being denied care because of the high cost of medications or inaccessible treatment options,” said Senator Tom Carper. “We cannot stand idly by while this disease continues to claim lives through related illnesses that are preventable and treatable. I’m proud of our bipartisan and bicameral legislation to open the door for Medicare to provide Americans with every available treatment and tool for reducing obesity’s physical, social and financial costs.”

“The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) provides a direct line to chronic weight management medications for Medicare recipients struggling with obesity,” said Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks“As a physician, I believe we must support and utilize available medical breakthroughs. This legislation combats the obesity epidemic through increasing access to ground-breaking medical treatments and screenings.”

“Individuals struggling with obesity need access to care that recognizes obesity as a disease and treats it as such, and in a holistic way. As more effective anti-obesity drugs and behavioral interventions are being developed and becoming more affordable, it is critical that we do not hinder access to Medicare recipients.  In doing so, we can better address chronic conditions that are often linked to obesity and affect millions of Americans, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease," said Rep. Gwen Moore. "I am honored to join Reps. Wenstrup, Ruiz, and Pfluger in championing the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which would help give Medicare beneficiaries more tools to support healthy, full lives.”

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act is endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, the American Gastroenterological Association, the American Academy of PAs, the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Psychological Association, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the Obesity Action Coalition, the Obesity Medicine Association, the Obesity Society, WeightWatchers, the STOP Obesity Alliance, the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, the Diabetes Leadership Council, the National Kidney Foundation, National Consumers League, and the Endocrine Society.