February 28, 2019

Cassidy, Carper, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Reduce Obesity

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Coons (D-DE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, bipartisan legislation addressing our nation’s obesity crisis through Medicare. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 27 million Americans are obese, and an estimated 300,000 deaths a year are attributed to the epidemic. The disease increases the risk for other chronic conditions and illnesses, including certain cancers and heart disease.

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would expand access to intensive behavioral therapy for obesity for patients on Medicare by covering treatment by certain medical professionals other than primary care physicians and practitioners. It would also allow Medicare to cover prescription drugs used to treat obesity or for weight loss management.

“As a doctor, I’ve seen what obesity does to a person’s physical and mental health,” said Dr. Cassidy, a member of the Senate health committee. “Treating obesity must be a priority, and this bipartisan legislation will allow Medicare to cover more of the therapy and medications needed to help patients overcome this challenge.”

“One in three American adults struggle with obesity, and the percentage of children and adolescents who are overweight has more than tripled since the 1970s. These facts demand action,” said Senator Carper. “We can no longer stand by idly while this trend, that leads to premature deaths and higher health care costs, continues. Today, my colleagues and I are reintroducing the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which will implement a robust strategy for addressing obesity in this country and ensure that our vital health care programs, like Medicare, provide Americans with the tools and information they need to reduce obesity’s physical, social and financial costs to society.”

“Representing a state with one of the highest prevalences of obesity in the nation, this is something that I take very seriously,” said Senator Capito. “The bipartisan Treat and Reduce Obesity Act takes important steps in addressing this serious health issue and will help improve the health and wellbeing of West Virginians and Americans across the country.”

“Over two million Tennesseans suffer from obesity or are overweight,” said Senator Blackburn. “That’s a shocking one-third of the population, and the rates are even higher for children. Obesity is quickly becoming a national emergency that leads to additional health problems and decreases lifespan. It is vitally important that we have the resources to address this public health crisis. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which I co-sponsored as a member of the House, is an actionable first step we can take to help those affected to adopt a healthy lifestyle through behavioral therapy. By authorizing Medicare to cover treatment from a range of healthcare providers, we can work to combat it.” 

“Obesity is a complex chronic disease that affects the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans, including over 500,000 adults in New Mexico,” said Senator Heinrich. “This bipartisan legislation would give patients access to a full range of safe and effective tools that would empower them to improve their physical and mental health.”

“The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act is an important step in addressing the obesity epidemic across the nation as it will provide more funding and better treatment options for healthcare professionals including intervention, counseling, and treatment,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bill is about saving lives, reducing healthcare costs, and creating a healthier and ultimately happier lifestyle for Alaskans.”

“Obesity is a national health issue. We must ensure Americans have access to the treatments and medications they need to reduce the risk of chronic and disabling conditions that result from obesity,” said Senator Klobuchar. “By linking Medicare patients to the care they need and promoting healthy lifestyles, we can combat this public health crisis among Americans across the country.”