Bipartisan Bill Launched to Treat and Reduce Obesity

In a week of milestones for obesity policy, Democrats and Republicans joined in Washington to introduce the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act in both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Coming a day after the American Medical Association voted for the first time to declare obesity a disease, this bill opens the door for Medicare to cover the cost of treating obesity more fully.

“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.

Given the current climate of Washington, it’s remarkable to see Democrats and Republicans working together on any health legislation. But that’s precisely what we have here. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) teamed with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to spearhead the legislation in the Senate. Representatives Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced the legislation in the House.

“As a physician, I have personally seen the impact of obesity on people’s health and spiraling health care costs,” said Cassidy. “This legislation would help empower physicians to use all the tools in their arsenal to combat this epidemic.”

“If we continue to stand idly by while more and more people become overweight and obese, for the first time in our country’s history our children will live shorter lives than we adults do,” Carper said.

Slowly, but surely, the message that obesity is an urgent matter of health seems to be coming through.

Click here to read more from Reuters, click here to read more from the bill’s sponsors, and click here and here to read more from the Obesity Action Coalition and health professionals that support this bill.

DC at Night, photograph © William Marlow / flickr

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