Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced bipartisan legislation that would expand Medicare beneficiaries’ access to Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), a cost-effective method to treat obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and other chronic conditions.
“Medical Nutrition Therapy is an effective strategy to improve disease management and prevention for America’s seniors,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would support patients, improve health outcomes, and reduce unnecessary health care costs. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation to expand Medicare beneficiaries’ access to Medical Nutrition Therapy.”
“On behalf of the Maine Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, thank you to Senator Collins for introducing the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act and helping to ensure seniors have access to the health care they need,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Maine Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President Kristine Kittridge. “In addition to the impact that access to nutrition care would have for the high number of seniors in the Pine Tree State, expanding who can refer their patients for MNT would be especially significant for rural areas with physician shortages.”
The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act would expand Medicare Part B coverage of outpatient medical nutrition therapy services to a number of currently uncovered diseases or conditions—including prediabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, malnutrition, eating disorders, cancer, HIV/AIDS, gastrointestinal diseases including celiac disease, and cardiovascular disease. Currently, Medicare Part B only covers outpatient MNT for diabetes, renal disease, and post-kidney transplant. The legislation would also allow more types of providers—including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and psychologists—to refer patients to MNT.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors with diet-related conditions have suffered more than any other population in terms of the worst health outcomes, including death. Last year, data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) confirmed elevated risk for seniors with underlying health conditions. Among those hospitalized with COVID-19, 84 percent of patients had hypertension, 68 percent had hyperlipidemia, 51 percent had diabetes, and 35 percent of patients were obese. Tragically, many of these patients were never able to leave the hospital because they passed away.
Click HERE to read the full text of the bill.