The Endocrine Society hosted a congressional briefing in September to educate members of Congress and congressional staff on anti-obesity medications.
The briefing featured two Endocrine Society members who are experts in obesity medicine. Jonathan Purnell, MD, professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, provided attendees with an opportunity to learn more about these medications, how they work, and barriers to access.
Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would remove restrictions pertaining to intensive behavioral therapy (IBT), which is an effective lifestyle intervention for obesity that includes dietary and nutrition assessment to promote weight loss.
Rocio Peirera, MD, chief of endocrinology at Denver Health and an Endocrine Society board member, spoke about the health inequities that exist in obesity treatment and care. The briefing was held as part of a series of briefings for the Society’s Obesity Education Initiative to educate congressional offices about the obesity epidemic. Our initiative also includes educational resources including our Obesity Playbook which offers a “101” education about obesity for congressional staff. The Playbook and other educational resources on obesity are available on the Society’s website.
Prior to our briefing, the House Energy & Commerce Health subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). This important bipartisan legislation would take steps to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the full range of obesity treatment options. Specifically, TROA would remove restrictions pertaining to intensive behavioral therapy (IBT), which is an effective lifestyle intervention for obesity that includes dietary and nutrition assessment to promote weight loss. Current Medicare rules have placed restrictions in the referral process of IBT which has resulted in underutilization of the benefit.
The legislation would also ensure that Medicare beneficiaries can access FDA-approved anti-obesity medications, which are scientifically proven to be effective at treating obesity. Medicare is currently prohibited from covering anti-obesity medications. The Society is a long-time advocate for this legislation, and we are pleased that the Energy & Commerce Committee conducted this hearing. We will continue to urge Congress to pass TROA to provide access to effective weight loss medication.