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Senators Collins, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Disease Management and Prevention for Seniors

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act, 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 for improving disease management and prevention among older Americans,” said Senator Collins. “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 for seniors in Maine and throughout the country.”

“Taking steps to strengthen preventive care for diabetes and other chronic conditions could help at-risk individuals live longer and healthier lives,” said Senator Peters. “I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan legislation with Senator Collins to expand access to critical medical services for Michiganders and millions of Americans, while helping to lower Medicare costs for all taxpayers.”

“Medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist is essential in the diagnosing and intervention of diet-related chronic diseases, including obesity and diabetes,” said Lauri Wright, President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “This important piece of legislation would have a rippling effect on the health of Americans across the country, especially among people from racial and ethnic minority populations. The Academy thanks Senators Collins and Peters and Representatives Kelly and Kiggans for their ongoing commitment to improving the health of our nation and their support for access to medical nutrition therapy.”

 “The Celiac Disease Foundation is proud to again support the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act. Our patient and caregiver community consistently share how difficult it is to adopt and follow a gluten-free diet in a food ecosystem that includes gluten in more than 80% of its products – while also maintaining a healthy, balanced diet,” said Marilyn G. Geller, CEO of the Celiac Disease Foundation. “Healthcare providers strongly recommend counseling by dietitians skilled in celiac disease, and research shows that counseling from a registered dietician or other nutrition professional is essential for the well-being of our community. We urge members of Congress to pass this important legislation this session.”

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.

MNT counseling is provided by Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) as part of a collaborative health care team.  It is evidenced-based and proven to positively affect weight, blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar control. Nutritional counseling by RDNs is recommended by the National Lipid Association to promote long-term adherence to an individualized, heart-healthy diet. 

The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act is supported by more than 40 expert national organizations, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Diabetes Association, the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, the American Academy of PAs, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, the American Heart Association, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the Endocrine Society.