03/05/2019 | Press release | Archived content
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, U.S. Reps. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced the bipartisan Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which will help lower health care costs and address the obesity epidemic by expanding access to treatment options for Medicare beneficiaries affected by obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of American adults 60 years old and older are considered medically obese. That totals more than 27 million Americans. The National Institutes of Health rank complications from obesity and the chronic diseases and conditions associated with obesity - such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lipid disorders, and diabetes - as the second leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that 300,000 people die from obesity-related complications every year.
When Medicare Part D was created in 2006, there were no widely-accepted FDA-approved obesity drugs on the market. As a result, Congress excluded obesity drugs from Part D coverage. However, with significant medical advances, a number of FDA-approved weight loss drugs are now available.
'Obesity is a national health epidemic we must address with bold, decisive action to save lives and help individuals of all ages live longer, healthier lives. This critical legislation will help seniors access comprehensive health care services that can help them tackle obesity head on, prolonging their lives and lowering their risk of heart disease and stroke. I'm grateful to Congressman Kind for his leadership, and I'm proud to join him in introducing this bipartisan, common-sense legislation that will strengthen Medicare for our seniors and improve their access to obesity treatments,' said Dr. Raul Ruiz.
'Treating obesity and making healthier life choices are goals for many Americans, yet the obesity epidemic continues to plague communities across the country. I am proud to partner on this bipartisan legislation that will help those looking to live a healthier lifestyle achieve their goals, and reduce future health-related costs and complications,' said Rep. Ron Kind.
'Helping millions of our fellow Americans fight obesity and live a healthier lifestyle is something we should all care about. This bipartisan legislation expands access to cost-effective treatment options, ensuring people have a fair chance to improve their lives while keeping their related healthcare expenses low,' said Rep. Tom Reed.
'Sadly, obesity rates among adults in the United States have doubled in the last twenty years, and over 34% of Kentucky's adults are living with obesity. Living with obesity impacts a person's overall health, and often can be directly correlated to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and certain cancers. I was proud to join Reps. Kind, Ruiz, and Reed to introduce the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which will enhance access to treatment for obesity for Medicare recipients,' said Rep. Brett Guthrie.
Reps. Raul Ruiz and Brett Guthrie serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Reps. Ron Kind and Tom Reed serve on the House Committee on Ways and Means subcommittee on Health.