Academy Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic: Your Help is Critical Now

03/17/2020 - Yesterday, the Academy sent an all-member email urging them to message their senators to pass legislation that would allow state and local entities to take prompt action to address the imminent needs of their communities, including federally funded nutrition programs. Academy members, you can take action here if you have not already done so. Read more information on how to send an alert in the Academy’s new action center.

Key federal nutrition programs require both expanded flexibility for their continued administration and direct sufficient funding necessary to meet the imminent needs of local communities. In a letter sent last week to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Health and Human Services, the Academy outlined specific requests for the following: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; Child and Adult Care Food Program; Child Nutrition Programs; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Emergency Food Assistance Program, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Food Distribution on Indian Reservations; and Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs.

The Academy supports access to MNT services during the current public health emergency to limit unnecessary exposure for both clients and providers. We recognize the potential financial impact of the pandemic for members across practice settings where MNT services are provided. The Academy has developed guidance that highlights what is currently known about the ability to bill public and private payers for MNT services delivered via telehealth.

The ongoing health care needs of Medicare beneficiaries should not be put on hold while citizens and health care providers work together to slow the spread of the coronavirus. To support our members and access to care, the Academy is urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to grant Medicare beneficiaries access to the full scope of benefits, including medical nutrition therapy via telehealth. In a letter sent yesterday by Academy President Terri J. Raymond to HHS, the Academy stated: "It is essential during this time of prescribed self-isolation that beneficiaries can receive health care services amenable to telehealth technology in their homes, taking advantage of the wide range of emerging e-health technology."

The Academy continues to closely monitor the novel coronavirus situation in coordination with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and state and local governments. The health and safety of our communities remain a top priority. As more information becomes available regarding the impact of policy changes on the delivery of nutrition programs and services including MNT and telehealth, we will update you through our communication channels.