Senators Carper and Cassidy and Representatives Ruiz and Wenstrup Take Action to Combat the Obesity Epidemic

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act has widespread support from stakeholders across the health care industry

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) reintroduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) to combat the obesity crisis in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diseases associated with obesity such as heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and certain types of cancer are the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would work to directly prevent these comorbidities through expanded coverage of new health care specialists and chronic weight management medications for Medicare recipients. It will also work to mitigate the obesity epidemic by providing regular screenings.

“With obesity rates on the rise in our country, we must do more to combat this epidemic head on. Too many of those in need are being denied care because of the high cost of medications or inaccessible treatment options,” said Senator Carper. “We cannot stand idly by while this disease continues to claim lives through related illnesses that are preventable and treatable. I’m proud of our bipartisan and bicameral legislation to open the door for Medicare to provide Americans with every available treatment and tool for reducing obesity’s physical, social and financial costs.”

“There is a clear need to address obesity,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Expanding Medicare coverage to the treatments patients need enables them to improve their health and benefits us all.”

“Obesity is a complex chronic disease and a public health epidemic that costs our nation billions of dollars. As an Emergency Physician, I cared for many patients with complications from diabetes and cardiovascular diseases that stemmed from their obesity,” said Congressman Dr. Ruiz. “The bipartisan Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, would help seniors who suffer from obesity gain Medicare coverage and access to vital medications and behavioral therapies that would help them live a healthier and longer life.”

“As a physician, the prevalence of obesity in our country deeply concerns me. I believe it is important that we work to keep Americans healthier for longer, and when patients go without obesity treatment, which is multi-faceted, it is more difficult to treat later down the line,” said Congressman Dr. Wenstrup. “By tackling obesity head on, we can better prevent numerous additional diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, helping lengthen Americans’ health spans while also saving taxpayer and Medicare dollars over the long run.”

The Senate legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

The following organizations have endorsed TROA this year: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Academy of PAs, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, American Diabetes Association, American Gastroenterological Association, American Medical Group Association, American Psychological Association, American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, American Society for Nutrition, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists, Black Woman’s Health Imperative, Boehringer-Ingelheim, ConscienHealth, Currax, Diabetes Leadership Council, Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, Eli Lilly and Company, Endocrine Society, Gerontological Society of America, Global Liver Institute, Healthcare Leadership Council, HealthyWomen, Intuitive Surgical, MedTech Coalition for Metabolic Health, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, National Black Nurses Association, Inc., National Consumers League, National Council on Aging, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Kidney Foundation, Novo Nordisk, Obesity Action Coalition, Obesity Medicine Association, Ro, Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, The Obesity Society, Trust for America’s Health, WW Weight Watchers International, and YMCA of the USA.

As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Carper has been a leader in the fight to lower health care costs, especially for the treatment of obesity. Since 2013, he has led the introduction of TROA, working across the aisle and with dozens of outside stakeholders. Senator Carper has also introduced legislation to combat childhood obesity and prevent the spread of this disease early on. Under the Affordable Care Act, Senator Carper worked to secure $70 million to help states address the root causes of chronic diseases like obesity, and he has repeatedly advocated for legislation that would increase health care access and affordability for older Americans to ensure that everyone ages with dignity.  

The full text of the bill can be found here.