Maine: Another State Works on Better Obesity Care
This chick hasn’t hatched. But the conversation is encouraging. Yesterday, Maine State Senator Nate Libby presented a bill in committee to reduce obesity and chronic disease rates in Maine by providing better obesity care.
LD 1162: “An Act To Reduce the Incidence of Obesity and Chronic Disease in Maine”
Specifically, Libby’s bill would provide better access to evidence-based obesity care for participants in MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. It would open up the possibility for covering medical nutrition therapy by registered dietitians and for FDA-approved obesity treatment medications. Libby said:
This is a straightforward and fiscally sound policy for the state’s health insurance program. By making nutritional therapies and obesity treatment medications more affordable and accessible for people with MaineCare, we can help make people healthier, help them live longer, more productive lives and save money on treatments that they might have needed in the future for these preventable, chronic diseases.
Matija Burtis is Medical Director of Saint Mary’s Hospital’s Weight Management Program. On Friday, he spoke in favor of the bill:
We are limited in our ability to provide for our MaineCare patients, due to coverage restraints. Everyone in our state is deserving of evidenced based care, not just those with private insurance.
Also supporting the bill were the Maine Primary Care Association, the Maine Osteopathic Association, the Maine Hospital Association, the American Heart Association, the Maine Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Victoria Weeks Rogers, the Associate Director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight and the Medical Director of the 5120 Let’s Go! Program. Rogers said:
I think it is a major medical emergency in the state of Maine and nationally. I think you all know I work nationally on this issue.
“The state of Maine has carved out a peculiar place in American political life in recent years,” writes Evan Hughes in the New Yorker. The state is also blessed to have some smart people dedicated to good obesity care. It has not one, but two first-rate childhood obesity programs: the Way to Optimal Weight at EMMC and Countdown to a Healthy ME at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.
Maybe Maine will find a way forward. Obesity lies at the root of so many other chronic diseases. Healthcare costs for treating the complications of untreated obesity are spiraling out of control. Leaving obesity untreated while running up huge bills for its complications is insane.
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April 15, 2017