A promising bipartisan bill that increases vital access and reimbursement for obesity screening and counseling services has been introduced in Congress, thanks to the Academy and its partners, including the Obesity Care Continuum who collaborated with key members of Congress.
The Academy has continued to work to expand registered dietitian nutritionists’ coverage to independently provide intensive behavioral therapy for obesity since November 2011. At that time, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its decision to cover obesity counseling services, but stipulated that coverage was limited to the primary care setting and registered dietitian nutritionists must bill “indirect” to the physician. The Academy has continued to take a two pronged approach to expand coverage for MNT, (1) by addressing current regulations; and (2) collaborating with partners to develop new legislation.
If passed, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2013 would allow registered dietitian nutritionists and other qualified health practitioners to independently provide – and be reimbursed for – intensive behavioral therapy for obesity for Medicare participants, who are 65 years and older. In addition, information about intensive behavioral therapy for obesity would be highlighted and distributed to Medicare recipients and their doctors, ensuring they are aware of the valuable service.
The Academy plans to execute a comprehensive strategy to move this legislation through Congress. Reaching out to Senators and Representatives, the Academy will take advantage of the opportunity to educate Congress about the importance of nutrition education and counseling.
The Academy will put in place an effective grassroots effort, asking member leaders in every state to meet with their members of Congress to help gain support for the bill. Please be on the lookout for emails from your affiliate on how you can get involved!