Washington, DC – Members of the Obesity Community applaud Senator Carper (D-DE) for his leadership to address our country’s obesity epidemic by introducing the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2012. This critical legislation will provide Medicare beneficiaries with additional treatment tools to help seniors address their overweight and obesity.

Specifically, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act will:

Require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to highlight and provide additional information regarding Medicare coverage of intensive behavioral counseling for obesity for seniors and their doctors.

Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and implement a plan to coordinate HHS agencies’ programs to treat, reduce, and prevent obesity and overweight in the adult population. This coordinated plan to reduce obesity should include: description of interagency efforts and plans to treat and reduce obesity; identification of best practices for treating obesity; research initiatives related to monitoring and treating obesity; and recommendations for coordinating federal agency budgets and programs to treat obesity.

Finally, this legislation would provide CMS with the authority to expand the Medicare benefit for intensive behavioral counseling by allowing additional types of health care providers to offer these services and allow the agency to expand Medicare Part D to provide coverage of FDA-approved prescription drugs for chronic weight management.

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.

“The Obesity Action Coalition feels this is a proactive step toward not only helping Americans already affected by obesity, but also ensuring that future Americans are provided with the necessary education to understand the importance of weight and its impact on health,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO.

Just as those affected by heart disease receive their care through a coordinated multidisciplinary treatment team, those affected by obesity should also follow a similar continuum of coordinated care. 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.

“We are very pleased with Senator Carper’s stance on addressing the obesity epidemic. This legislation will ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries will have the opportunity and healthcare provider support to address their weight and improve their health,” said Harvey J. Grill, PhD, President of The Obesity Society (TOS).