STOP Obesity Alliance Task Force urges HHS to give obesity equal weight in essential health benefits

Posted By News On August 30, 2011 - 2:30pm

"A major intent of the ACA is to control health care spending and increase access to necessary services for those who need it most," said Alliance Director Christine Ferguson, J.D. "With America's rising obesity rates leading to worsening health outcomes and equally alarming cost projections, leaving obesity unaddressed is both unsustainable and unacceptable."

At the core of the Task Force's recommendations is the tenet that obesity and weight-related interventions should receive the same consideration as any other health condition. The Task Force noted that while more research is needed, there are evidence-based obesity and obesity-related chronic disease prevention, treatment and management services available that could and should be covered as a way to stem the obesity epidemic.

Specifically, the recommendations propose that:

  • No obesity prevention, treatment or management services should be summarily excluded from the new essential health benefits package coverage requirements under the ACA;

  • All evidence-based preventive services be covered;
  • All preventive benefits be covered with no or reduced cost-sharing; and
  • All evidence-based treatments for obesity be covered with reasonable cost-sharing.

Federal, evidence-based recommendations underpin the Task Force's proposal to include obesity services in the EHB. The Task Force cites recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as part of the evidence base for including these services.

Obesity affects one-third of U.S. adults and is linked to increasing the risk of more than 20 chronic diseases and health conditions, including diabetes, that cause devastating consequences and increased mortality. "Including obesity-related services as part of the EHB has potential to improve the health of millions of Americans," said Ferguson, "especially those that are currently medically underserved and suffering from the greatest weight-related disease burden."

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