Tampa, Fla. – On June 19, 2013, U.S. Senators, Tom Carper (D-DE) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and U.S. Representatives, Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Ron Kind (D-WI), introduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act. “This legislation will provide Medicare recipients and their healthcare providers with meaningful tools to treat and reduce obesity by improving access to obesity screening and counseling services, and new prescription drugs for chronic weight management,” said Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, Vice-Chairman of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) Board of Directors and Chair of The Obesity Society’s Advocacy Committee.

Specifically, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to highlight and provide additional information regarding Medicare coverage of intensive behavioral counseling for the disease of obesity for seniors and their doctors. This legislation also gives CMS the authority to enhance beneficiary access to the new Medicare benefit for intensive behavioral counseling services by allowing additional types of health care providers to offer these services. Finally, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act allows CMS to provide coverage of prescription drugs under Medicare Part D for chronic weight management to individuals who are affected by obesity, or excess weight (classified as “overweight” according to body mass index) with one or more co-morbidities.

“Evidence-based literature clearly demonstrates that people affected by obesity can substantially improve their health and quality of life when they have access to a continuum of medically necessary treatment – including behavioral, nutritional, pharmaceutical, psychosocial and surgical treatment,” said Laurie Traetow, Executive Director of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP). “Even a 5-10 percent weight loss produces clinically significant reductions in risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, mental illness, lipid disorders, sleep apnea, and certain cancers.”

“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. 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,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO. “Passage of this landmark legislation will address a number of key hurdles to Medicare recipients receiving critical medically necessary obesity treatment services.”

About the Community
About the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC)
The OAC is the ONLY nonprofit organization whose sole focus is representing individuals affected by obesity. Founded in 2005, the OAC remains at the forefront of the fight against obesity. From advocating on Capitol Hill for access to obesity treatments to publishing hundreds of educational resources for individuals affected, the OAC truly represents the voice of all those affected by obesity. For more information on the OAC, please visit www.obesityaction.org.

About the Obesity Society (TOS)
The Obesity Society is the leading scientific society dedicated to the study of obesity. The Obesity Society is committed to encouraging research on the causes, treatment, and prevention of obesity as well as to keeping the scientific community and public informed of new advances in the field. For more information, please visit www.obesity.org.  

About the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)
The mission of the ASMBS is to advance the art and science of bariatric surgery by continued encouragement of its members to:  improve the care and treatment of people with obesity and related diseases; advance the science and understanding of metabolic surgery; foster communication between health professionals on obesity and related conditions; and advocate for health care policy that ensures patient access to high-quality prevention and treatment of obesity. For more information, please visit www.asmbs.org.

About the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP)
Founded in 1950, ASBP (www.asbp.org) is the oldest medical association dedicated to the treatment of obesity and associated diseases. ASBP is a collaborative organization that provides its members practical information and business tools to implement a successful medical bariatric practice. 

About the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.