May 26, 2020
CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Rep. Pete King's (N.Y.) commitment to America's health by introducing the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2020. The bill would provide coverage for Medicare beneficiaries to obtain treatment from registered dietitian nutritionists and other qualified nutrition experts for many common and costly chronic diseases.
Many diet-related chronic conditions are contributing to poor COVID-19 outcomes. Minority populations have long faced chronic disease health disparities due to socioeconomic inequalities and reduced access to health care, healthful foods and safe places to be active. It is these same groups that are now disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Increasing access to medical nutrition therapy is a critical part of the solution and the Academy calls on policymakers to take action.
"Medical nutrition therapy administered by a registered dietitian nutritionist is critical in helping clients manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancers, obesity and kidney disease," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Terri J. Raymond. "Seniors deserve to have access to this cost-effective medical treatment."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports that 90 percent of the country's $3.5 trillion in annual health care costs go to the treatment of people with chronic diseases and mental health conditions. More than two-thirds of seniors receiving Medicare live with multiple chronic conditions.
The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2020 would expand Medicare Part B coverage of outpatient medical nutrition therapy services for people with prediabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, malnutrition, eating disorders, cancer, celiac disease, HIV/AIDS and any other disease or condition causing unintentional weight loss or as determined necessary by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. This would add to existing Medicare Part B coverage for MNT for people with diabetes and renal disease.
In addition, the bill would authorize nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to refer patients for MNT.
"The Academy thanks Reps. Engel and King for their continued efforts on behalf of New York and their recognition of the importance of nutritional services in improving America's health," Raymond said.
Representing more than 100,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.