Access Update | January 2013


  • Obesity Community Responds to Proposed Regulations on EHB Coverage of Obesity Treatment Services
  • Obesity Community Meets with Office of Health Reform

Editor: Christopher Gallagher, Director of ASMBS Washington Office
December, 2012

 Download PDF

Coalition of Patient/Healthcare Provider Groups Comment on HHS Proposed Regulations on Essential Health Benefits

On December 24, 2012, a coalition of 10 patient and healthcare provider groups came together in submitting a joint comment letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in response to the Department’s proposed regulations regarding state health exchanges and additional details regarding essential health benefit (EHB) requirements.

The coalition (American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP), American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Institute for Cancer Research, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Campaign to End Obesity Action Fund, Mental Health America, National Alliance for Mental Illness, Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), and The Obesity Society) urged the HHS Secretary to “recognize that obesity is a serious chronic disease and deserves to be treated seriously in the same fashion as diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Therefore, as your department guides states through this critical phase of state health exchange development, please afford those affected by obesity with the same medically necessary treatment avenues afforded to all others who suffer from chronic disease.”

Obesity Community Meets with Office of Health Reform

On December 20, 2012, leaders from the obesity community sat down with key staff in the HHS Office of Health Reform to discuss issues related to coverage of obesity treatment services under the Affordable Care Act. ASMBS leaders Dr. Jaime Ponce and Dr. John Morton were joined by ASBP Board Member Dr. Debbie Bade Horn, TOS Leaders Francesca Dea and Ted Kyle, AND staff Jeanne Blankenship, and OAC volunteer Vincent Zeringue.

While Office of Health Reform staff were precluded from discussing various aspects of the proposed regulations governing essential health benefits because of the open rulemaking process, they did receive a thorough briefing regarding the current status of coverage for obesity treatment services such as intensive behavioral counseling, FDA approved obesity drugs, and bariatric surgery. Great Resource for Tracking State implementation of Health Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act

Advocates at the state level should familiarize themselves with – an online network for health reform implementation. It is an initiative of the National Academy for State Health Policy, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The site connects state health officials looking for information and assistance with their peers and other experts who have relevant resources and experiences to share.

We encourage obesity advocates to check out the site (registration is free) as they provide a wealth of useful and up-to-date information. One such example is a map on “where states stand on exchanges”

Featured Resource:

Bariatric Movies and Images
A new digital educational resource for ASMBS members

The official journal of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery