Treat and Reduce Obesity Act Sponsor Pushes for Legislation at Congressional Hearing

06/08/16 - The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee held a public hearing on "Legislation to Improve and Sustain the Medicare Program" to provide a public platform for any Member of Congress to discuss bills introduced that modify the way health care is accessed and delivered to the more than 55 million seniors who rely on the Medicare program.

Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) used his time to speak in support of H.R. 2404 – the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), of which he is the chief House sponsor and that he introduced with Representative Ron Kind (D-WI). Following are the text of Representative Paulsen's remarks from the June 8 Subcommittee hearing:

"Obesity is an epidemic and a public health crisis that must be addressed now. Over 40% of U.S. seniors are obese. This disease takes both a physical and emotional toll on an individual and often is the cause of many other chronic conditions – including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Nearly 20% of the increase in U.S. health care spending over the last two decades was caused by obesity. This disease directly costs Medicare more than $50 billion a year and that number will continue to increase over the coming years. This is bad for our seniors and it is bad for Medicare.

Unfortunately, there are limitations in place preventing patients from accessing important treatments and providers that can help them combat obesity. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would remove these barriers by giving patients access to FDA approved obesity drugs under Medicare Part D and allowing additional qualified health care practitioners to provide intensive behavioral therapy services. Patients and clinicians require access to the full range of proven, safe, and effective therapies for the treatment of obesity.

We have the ability to save the health care system billions of dollars and make the lives of patients significantly better. That's why this bill has nearly 150 bipartisan cosponsors. We can't solve this problem overnight, but taking action together now will help us solve our obesity crisis over the long-term."

Academy members are encouraged to contact their members of congress to support TROA and enable RDNs to independently provide and bill for providing intensive behavioral therapy for obesity. Hundreds of your RDN and NDTR colleagues will be storming Capitol Hill to advocate for TROA and other Academy legislative priorities on Friday June 24 at the Public Policy Workshop.