TOS Leads Obesity Community in Reaching Out to Key Policymakers

TOS President-Elect Patrick O’Neil, Advocacy Task Force Chair Ted Kyle, and Executive Director Francesca Dea joined with other leaders from obesity organizations (Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), American Dietetic Association (ADA), and American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)) in meeting with Congressional staff for Republican Members of Congress who now have leadership roles on key Congressional health care committees.  The group discussed concerns with Hill staff regarding  the “Safeway Amendment” pertaining to employer wellness incentive programs and how these programs will harm workers with obesity. Staff also learned about our efforts to secure obesity treatment services under the essential benefit package for the new health exchange plans.

The group met with staff members in key offices: Representative David Camp (R-MI), Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Representative Wally Herger (R-CA), Chair of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee; Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chair of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee; and Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), member of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

Following the adage that “all politics is local,” Dr. O’Neil also arranged visits with Hill staff from the South Carolina Delegation that included Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC), and James Clyburn (D-SC).

Dr. O’Neil also led a group to meet with staff of the Southern Governors Association (SGA). Founded in 1934, the SGA supports the work of Southern Governors by providing a bipartisan, regional forum to help shape and implement national policy and solve regional problems. The goal of these meetings was to establish connections with health policy leaders in the southern states where the obesity epidemic is most prevalent.