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Grassley, Rockefeller, Carper Look to Advance Provision to Improve Care, Prevention of Obesity and Diabetes via Medicare and Medicaid

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware said today they will look for opportunities to advance their bipartisan proposal to provide coverage of intensive behavioral therapy for obesity and the coordination of programs to prevent and treat obesity in Medicare and Medicaid.

"The costs to society caused by diabetes and obesity are tremendous," Grassley said. "There are ways to reduce the incidence of both those conditions. Working with the Finance Committee on a bipartisan basis and the Congressional Budget Office, I'm confident we can take steps to achieve better health for Americans battling these two conditions."

"I've long held that preventive measures are one of the best ways we can improve health outcomes and save money on health care," Rockefeller said. "Chronic diseases like diabetes are expensive to manage and, if left unaddressed, lead to additional health problems down the road. Our effort works to prevent and manage obesity and diabetes through increased access to prevention programs for Medicare and Medicaid subscribers. This will lead to greater health care savings and has the potential to improve overall health outcomes which will boost the productivity and well being of our communities."

"We all know that obesity and diabetes are two of the main drivers of poor health and increasing health care costs in our country," Carper said. "If we do not rein in the growth of obesity and diabetes, this may be the first generation of Americans with a shorter life span than earlier generations. Overweight and obese patients are at increased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and other adverse health outcomes. Spending on diabetes treatment alone is one of the fastest growing parts of Medicare. To get this epidemic under control, we need to ensure that Medicare covers the full range of therapies and treatments that might help lower our country's obesity rates and better prevent chronic diseases like diabetes."

Grassley, Rockefeller and Carper sponsored an amendment, which was offered and withdrawn, to the physician payments bill considered in the Finance Committee last week that would provide coverage of intensive behavioral therapy for obesity and the coordination of programs to prevent and treat obesity in Medicare and Medicaid. The proposal would establish diabetes prevention program services for eligible diabetes prevention program participants. It also would broaden coverage of prescription drugs for weight loss management under Medicaid and Medicare Part D.

The proposal is meant to take advantage of existing anti-diabetes efforts and a new spate of federally approved weight loss drugs to address both diabetes and obesity, conditions that often interact.

Grassley, Rockefeller and Carper said they will look for legislative opportunities to advance this proposal in the coming months while continuing to work with other sponsors of the legislation including Sens. Al Franken, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. The senators also recognized the work of several senators and House members in this issue area and said they hope for bipartisan advancement of proposals to combat obesity and diabetes.

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