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October 2, 2023 – In recent comments to the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Academy advocated for equitable coverage for medical nutrition therapy in the treatment of eating disorders.

Passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) aimed to ensure individuals living with eating disorders would have access to the appropriate levels of nutrition care necessary to treat their condition; however, this aim has not been realized. Academy member experience has demonstrated that RDNs who are submitting nutrition care claims for their patients with eating disorders are repeatedly being denied payment and their patients are losing access to critical RDN-provided services.

While the Academy provided its support for the departments’ proposal to include messaging in the bill that clearly states “nutrition counseling” is a covered treatment for eating disorders under the MHPAEA, the Academy emphasized the need to address the lack of definition for the term “nutrition counseling,” underscoring the difference between the level and duration of care when nutrition counseling is provided with the intent to treat a disease or condition, such as an eating disorder, and when nutrition counseling is provided through the context of wellness and disease prevention. This distinction must be clarified in guidance to payers when determining benefits and coverage.

Lastly, the Academy provided its support for stronger enforcement of compliance with the MHPAEA, to include the provision of penalties for those plans that fail to comply with greater transparency and reporting requirements for plans providing mental health and medical/surgical benefits.

Read the Academy’s comments.

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