Nutritional support through Medicare could soon be available to more people with chronic conditions, as members of the House and Senate recently reintroduced the bipartisan Medical Nutrition Therapy Act.
“Medical Nutrition Therapy is an effective strategy for improving disease management and prevention among older Americans,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said in a statement. “By expanding Medicare Part B coverage of Medical Nutrition Therapy services, our bipartisan bill would improve both health outcomes and overall quality of life while lowering unnecessary health care costs.”
Collins and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced the legislation in the Senate, while Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Jen Kiggans (R-VA) proposed its companion bill in the House.
Patients, providers and lawmakers have long advocated for Medicare-supported nutrition services as a preventative measure to promote healthy living for older adults and people with chronic conditions. In June, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Medically Tailored Home-Delivered Meals Demonstration Act, which would create a four-year pilot program where seniors in need of nutritional support would receive meal deliveries to manage chronic conditions affected by their diet.
But currently Medicare Part B only covers Medical Nutrition Therapy for people with diabetes or renal disease. The new bill proposed Nov. 14 would extend that coverage to people with prediabetes, obesity, hypertension, eating disorders, cancer, HIV and AIDS, cardiovascular disease, celiac disease and any other chronic illnesses designated as a contributor to unintentional weight loss, according to the bill. Medical professionals would be able to refer their patients with these conditions to registered dietitian nutritionists for medical nutrition therapy.
“Our nutrition has a profound impact on our overall well-being and how our bodies respond to illness and disease,” Kelly said in a statement. “Medical nutrition therapy is a proven method for managing and alleviating symptoms of many chronic illnesses and diseases,
More than 40 health organizations have expressed their support for the bill.