On July 19, 2015, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) Executive Committee passed by a vote of 13-3, a resolution in "Support of Efforts to Reduce the Incidence of Obesity and Chronic Disease." The membership of NCOIL consists of the chairs and members of insurance committees in state legislatures across the country.
The purpose of the resolution is to encourage state policymakers to focus on increasing access to obesity pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery in Health Exchange benchmark plans, Medicaid and other state health programs as well as Qualified Health Plans offered through the exchanges.
The resolution reads as follows.
NCOIL urges the 50 State Legislatures, health departments and other state agencies and institutions to make the prevention and treatment of obesity a high priority and to work to ameliorate obesity-related problems, such as worker productivity and absenteeism, as well as medically related costs, while improving the health and wellness of all persons through the following measures:
- Encourage states that operate their own exchanges or those with federal-state partnership exchanges to consider the selection of benchmark plans that allow for access to the entire range of treatment options for wellness and preventive policies, including treatments for obesity such as pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery;
- Encourage the implementation of chronic disease management programs (CDMPs) in state Medicaid and other state health programs, or to seek out other sources of program funding for CDMPs, such as grants other public or private programs, that emphasize the management of obesity, including coverage of the full range of obesity treatments, particularly new innovative treatments such as pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery.
- Encourage state exchanges to incentivize Qualified Health Plans to include coverage of the full spectrum of obesity treatments or to implement CDMPs that include the full range of obesity treatments, including new innovative measures such as pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery. "
The adoption of this new policy by NCOIL resulted from the leadership of New York State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Louisiana State Representative Marcus Hunter who worked over the last two years in crafting the final policy that was adopted on July 19th. Their accomplishment is even more remarkable given that NCOIL has never passed any resolutions or model legislation that has focused on any specific disease category.
The Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) views the passage of the NCOIL obesity resolution as yet another positive step toward the OCC’s goal of securing universal coverage of obesity treatment services across the country. OCC groups contribute the success of this latest effort to the strong involvement of patient advocates and industry support at the local level – working to educate policymakers on the key NCOIL committees regarding the critical need for treating obesity seriously!