AMA Joins Call for Coverage of Obesity Treatments and Medications
The Obesity Society Invites AMA to Collaborate on Advocacy Initiatives to Improve Access to Care
Statement attributable to:
Steven R. Smith, MD
The Obesity Society President
The American Medical Association delegation today affirmed physician support for concrete efforts to address the nation's obesity crisis. The organization's passage of the "Patient Access to Evidence-Based Obesity Services" resolution gives the AMA decisive direction to support advocacy efforts to improve patient access to all evidence-based obesity treatments. Proven obesity treatments range from bariatric surgery and obesity drugs to intensive lifestyle interventions and nutrition counseling - and evidence supporting new and improved treatments are emerging each day.
The move comes at the one-year anniversary of the organization's declaration of obesity as a disease, a policy change that echoed support for a long-held classification by a number of leading health organizations, including The Obesity Society (2008). TOS member clinicians and scientists have long supported both efforts: to treat obesity as a serious disease and improve access to treatment. With the nation's largest physicians' group on board, policy makers and the nation's health insurers must take action to improve access to and coverage of these procedures and medications that are often the last hope for individuals with severe obesity.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurance coverage for individuals affected by obesity and other related conditions like diabetes, insurers - including those participating in the health insurance exchanges - are not required to cover proven obesity treatment options. And while coverage for bariatric surgery for severe obesity is spotty, at best, coverage for obesity drugs and other evidence-based treatment options is excluded.
TOS looks forward to working with the AMA and our partners in the delegation who helped support the passage of the AMA resolution, including American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP). We invite the AMA to take the next step by joining the Obesity Care Continuum, a group of the leading organizations dedicated to promoting access to, and coverage of, the continuum of care surrounding the treatment of overweight and obesity. The OCC is working on a variety of efforts to extend care, including the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which would take the first step to improve access to care by requiring Medicare to cover obesity counseling and medications.
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About The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease. For more information visit: www.Obesity.org.