Kiggans, colleagues introduce bipartisan bill to expand Medicare coverage  

November 25, 2023
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Jen Kiggans

WASHINGTON, DC:  Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02) announced they have introduced Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2023 to expand Medicare coverage for medical nutrition plans and addressing health disparities. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

“As a geriatric nurse practitioner, I have seen the positive impacts that medical nutrition plans can have on patient outcomes, especially my older adult population,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “Many of our aging Americans – particularly those battling serious diseases – rely on Medicare for the majority of their healthcare. Unfortunately, lack of coverage and knowledge of medical nutrition programs have discouraged many individuals from seeking out this treatment. I’m proud to join my colleagues on the bipartisan Medical Nutrition Therapy Act, which will address this lapse in coverage and ensure our older adults have access to proven and reliable assistance!”

“Our nutrition has a profound impact on our overall well-being and how our bodies respond to illness and disease,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. “Medical nutrition therapy is a proven method for managing and alleviating symptoms of many chronic illnesses and diseases, and it is essential that Congress ensures affordable access to this treatment. Expanding access to nutrition therapy is particularly crucial in our ongoing efforts to eliminate health disparities, as many minority and underserved populations have long experienced adverse health outcomes due to limited access to healthcare, healthy foods, and opportunities for exercise. I am proud to work with Congresswoman Kiggans and Senators Peters and Collins on the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act to expand access to this vital health treatment.”

“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 in the Senate to expand access to critical medical services for Michiganders and millions of Americans, while helping to lower Medicare costs for all taxpayers.”

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“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.”

 “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. 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,” said Marilyn G. Geller, Celiac Disease Foundation CEO.

The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act is supported by prominent national organizations, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Diabetes Association, the Endocrine Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

BACKGROUND

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As it stands, Medicare only covers medical nutrition therapy for individuals with diabetes or renal disease. The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 2023 will provide Medicare beneficiaries with greater access to registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) by expanding the availability of nutrition services under Medicare Part B. This expansion would include coverage for the following diseases: diabetes and prediabetes; renal disease; obesity; hypertension; dyslipidemia; malnutrition; eating disorders; cancer; gastrointestinal diseases, including celiac disease; HIV and AIDS; cardiovascular disease; and any other disease or condition specified by the Secretary related to unintentional weight loss.

Furthermore, the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act will authorize nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and psychologists to refer their patients for medical nutrition therapy.

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