Tampa, Fla. – The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), a more than 75,000 member-strong organization, strongly supports U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Thomas Carper (D-Del.) for urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover prescription drugs for obesity and expand coverage for Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT), which they say is “critical to our response to COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.”
In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, the senators wrote that obesity is the “second greatest risk factor, after old age, for hospitalization among COVID-19 patients.” They cite data from New York City showing people with COVID-19 and obesity are twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital and those with severe obesity are 3.6 times more likely to require critical care such as mechanical ventilation.
Senators Cassidy and Carper urge CMS to use its administrative authority to update its outdated and restrictive coverage policies surrounding FDA-approved obesity treatments and Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT), which they view as “critical to our response to COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.”
The senators are the primary sponsors of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), which would allow CMS to expand Medicare Part D coverage to include FDA-approved prescription drugs for obesity and expand the IBT benefit by allowing additional types of qualified healthcare providers to offer these services. More than 185 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are currently on record supporting TROA, but the bill has yet to come up for a floor vote since it was first introduced in 2013.
“The reality is that we are seeing people with obesity experiencing more severe health complications with COVID-19. Even prior to COVID-19, access to FDA-approved treatments for the disease of obesity was extremely limited. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on people with obesity is another enforcing reminder that people need access to safe and effective treatment. We stand strong with the Senators on their letter to CMS,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO.
The OAC is calling on its more than 75,000 members nationwide and the public to contact their legislators via the OAC ACTION Center and encourage elected officials to support the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act.
The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), a more than 75,000 member-strong National non-profit organization, is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals affected by the disease of obesity through education, advocacy and support.