27 States Flaunting ACA Ban on Healthcare Discrimination
Five major medical groups have filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, charging 27 states with healthcare discrimination that violates the Affordable Care Act. They cite denial of access to surgical care for obesity that discriminates against people based on pre-existing conditions, disabilities, and gender. All of the members of the Obesity Care Continuum — the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), Obesity Action Coalition, Obesity Medicine Association, and the Obesity Society — joined in the complaint. Commenting on this complaint, ASMBS President John Morton said:
Qualified health plans should not be able to discriminate against people with the disease of obesity and unfortunately this is happening in most states. The time has come for equitable treatment for the millions of patients affected by obesity. There needs to be one America where treatment for obesity is an option for everyone.
This action adds to the growing chorus of voices calling to align medical practices with the realization that obesity is a complex, chronic disease — not simply a matter of personal choice. Following the American Medical Association’s decision to regard obesity as a disease, those voices have steadily grown louder.
Denial of access to surgical care is particularly appalling, because of the dramatic benefits that bariatric surgery can provide. The facts are colliding with deeply entrenched bias against people living with obesity. Though progress continues, the slow pace is certainly frustrating.
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November 23, 2015