August 6, 2020
CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics thanks U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Gary Peters (Mich.) for their commitment to America’s health and their introduction of the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act. This bicameral, bipartisan legislation would provide coverage for Medicare beneficiaries to obtain treatment from registered dietitian nutritionists and other qualified nutrition experts for many common and costly chronic diseases.
"The Academy applauds Sens. Collins and Peters for recognizing that the need for medical nutrition therapy has never been greater," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Linda T. Farr. "Rates of diet-related chronic disease continue to climb in this country, and several are major risk factors for poor COVID-19 outcomes. Many minority populations have long faced chronic disease health disparities due to socioeconomic inequalities and reduced access to health care, healthy foods and safe places to be active. These communities are now are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, underscoring the need for action on health equity."
The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act would increase access to MNT for Medicare beneficiaries beyond diabetes and renal disease, allowing MNT coverage under Medicare Part B for:
- Eating disorders
- Celiac disease
- Any other disease or condition causing unintentional weight loss.
The bill would also allow the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to further expand access to MNT without additional legislation from Congress and would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to refer their patients for MNT.
"Medical nutrition therapy, uniquely provided by registered dietitian nutritionists, is an essential part of a long-term strategy to improve health and reduce health disparities," Farr said. "The Academy urges Congress to swiftly pass these bills to increase access to care that addresses chronic disease."
This legislation is the companion bill to H.R. 6971, the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2020, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in May by Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Pete King (N.Y.).
Representing more than 100,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.