CMS Must Expand Obesity Care for Seniors in Medicare Part D

Washington D.C. – Between 2017 and 2020, nearly half of all Americans were living with obesity, a complex and chronic disease that has serious health implications. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) has come under scrutiny for not providing coverage for comprehensive obesity care, including anti-obesity medications in Medicare Part D. This has led to a growing call for expanded obesity care and access to effective treatments for this widespread health issue.

Obesity is known to be a significant risk factor for serious health conditions such as hypertension, type-two diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer. The economic burden of these diseases is also substantial, with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes alone costing the American healthcare system billions of dollars per year. In light of this, the need for comprehensive obesity care is more urgent than ever.

New breakthrough innovations have led to the development of safe and effective medications for the long-term treatment of obesity. These treatments have shown efficacy in reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes in adults with heart disease and obesity. As a result, several states and federal agencies have recognized the importance of covering anti-obesity medications, with organizations like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association advocating for insurance coverage parity for emerging obesity treatment options.

Despite these advancements, CMS has refused to cover anti-obesity drugs in Medicare Part D, citing an outdated federal statute. With experts predicting that 50 percent of Americans will be living with obesity by 2030, there is a growing urgency for CMS to eliminate barriers to comprehensive obesity care. Joseph Nadglowski, president and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, and Anthony Comuzzie, CEO of the Obesity Society, have emphasized the need for CMS to act now to address this critical issue.

The prevalence and impact of obesity demand a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to treatment, including access to medications that have proven to be effective. As the landscape of obesity treatment evolves, it is crucial for CMS to keep pace with the latest advancements in evidence-based care. By providing coverage for anti-obesity medications in Medicare Part D, CMS has the opportunity to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of millions of Americans living with obesity.