By Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO
The OAC was extremely pleased to hear the news this week from Eli Lilly regarding their phase 3 trial results of tirzepatide, which shows promising weight loss for people with the disease of obesity. Eli Lilly’s investment of resources into the obesity treatment space is welcomed, as we continue to see the landscape of science-based obesity treatments grow and improve. The OAC has always maintained that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to obesity treatment and that the disease should be addressed in a healthcare setting with as many tools as the provider and individual affected feel are necessary.
Unfortunately, access to obesity care remains challenging, with access to medications especially limited. Only recently we see some positive movement with the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM – The HR Department for Federal employees) decision to provide access to obesity treatments starting in 2023. Beyond that, OAC has long-championed the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), which would provide Medicare recipients with access to FDA-approved obesity treatments (as well as expanded counseling) and hopefully drive significant change in the entire insurance industry but it’s been an uphill battle and getting Congress’ attention has been a challenge. In the private sector, many Americans are faced with sporadic insurance coverage options for obesity care and especially medications which are often excluded or have onerous pre-authorization requirements.
The simple reality is, while advancements in treatment are needed and welcomed, if the average American cannot access them, we may never see improvement in the health of those living with obesity. For decades, we’ve continued to address obesity with the standard “eat less and move more” approach, and the number of individuals impacted by obesity continues to rise. The OAC maintains a strong position that we must increase access to care, and we will continue this fight on many fronts, such as at the federal and state level and in the private sector as well. Obesity care must become the standard of care and be a regular benefit in insurance coverage.
Many companies have made tremendous strides in the improvement of the landscape for obesity treatment. Now it’s time for insurers, policymakers and others to follow suit and provide access to these treatments that people with obesity need and deserve.