The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), which would expand treatment options available to obese and overweight older adults on Medicare, now has 150 supporters among lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives. This growth came after the legislation was recently discussed by Rep. Eric Paulsen, one of its sponsors, in the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.
For TROA supporters, this rallying behind the bill is good news, as is the support shown by two key senators, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York). Sen. Burr is a senior member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sen. Gillibrand headed the successful push in 2010 to set September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
The proposed legislation enables the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to extend its pre-existing insurance benefits to include intensive behavioral counseling for eligible patients, and to expand Medicare Part D to include coverage of prescription drugs approved to address chronic weight management.
“Medicare recipients impacted by the disease of obesity need access to evidence-based treatment options. Obesity is a very complex, multifactorial disease requiring a comprehensive treatment plan. The TROA will provide Medicare recipients and their healthcare providers with meaningful tools to treat and reduce obesity by improving access to obesity screening and counseling services, and FDA-approved prescription drugs for chronic weight management,” said Joe Nadglowski, Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) president and CEO, and a representative of the TRO Coalition, in a recent press release.
TROA was first introduced into the 113th Congress in 2013, with the support of both parties. The bill gathered 121 co-sponsors, but did not move beyond the committee level. In the current Congress, it has again garnered attention and support, and the TRO Coalition is working to gain more co-sponsors for TROA to better secure its approval by the full House and Senate.
Obesity in the United States has been increasingly cited as a major health issue in recent decades. While many industrialized countries are experiencing similar increases, obesity rates in the U.S. are among the highest in the world. It is currently estimated that two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese.
Medicare is a U.S. government health insurance program for people age 65 and older, and for those with certain disabilities.