Posted 12/7/2017

Prepared by Christopher Gallagher, ASMBS Washington Representative

OCAN Second Annual Advocacy Day: February 27, 2018

Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) leaders decided during their December face-to-face meeting that Tuesday, February 27, 2018 will be the date for OCAN’s second annual Advocacy Day. More than 120 OCAN members participated in the February 2017 Advocacy Day — visiting 150 congressional offices to encourage support for the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). To date, 143 members of Congress are supporting TROA.

Next year’s OCAN Advocacy Day will again have attendees meeting with Capitol Hill staff between 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM with a lunch briefing for congressional staff sandwiched in between. The day will be capped off with a PAC reception to honor a Senator or Representative who has championed efforts to better promote patient access to, and coverage of, obesity treatment services.

Prior to the February 27, 2018 Advocacy Day, registrants will receive a number of briefing materials and will be able to participate in a special webinar that will highlight the arguments surrounding the need for passage of TROA and better coverage of science-based obesity treatment services in general. We encourage all OCC organizations to support this advocacy event so that we may have a broad representation of patients, researchers and healthcare professionals on the Hill that day.

So please save the date on your calendar and stay tuned for additional information regarding the specifics and registration process for the February 27, 2018 OCAN Advocacy Day.

Azar Nominated to be next Secretary of HHS

On November 13, 2017, President Trump nominated Alex Michael Azar II to be Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Azar is the former President of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest affiliate of global biopharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly and Company. Prior to his time at Lilly USA, Azar served during the George W. Bush administration as Deputy Secretary and General Counsel at HHS under then Secretary Mike Levitt. At the time of this report, the Senate Finance Committee had not acted on Azar’s nomination.

OCAN December Meeting Focuses on Obesity in the Military

OCAN’s most recent meeting targeted how obesity is affecting our military. Key speakers included Jamie Lockhart, Acting National Director for Mission Readiness, SMSgt Michael Daggett, Superintendent of Recruiting and Retention for the Indiana Air National Guard and William Dietz, Sumner M. Redstone Center Chair with the Milken Institute.

The presentations highlighted the severe impact that obesity is having on recruitment, retention and readiness in the military. Mission Readiness discussed how 71 percent of young Americans aged 17 – 24 are ineligible for military service due to overweight or obesity (31%), educational deficits, and criminal or drug abuse record. SMSgt Daggett shared his personal story about his struggle with obesity and how it almost ended his military career. Additionally, he discussed how the military needs to better address obesity in the ranks — particularly as it relates to access to treatment and bias and stigma.

Plans are being developed for a 2018 congressional staff briefing surrounding these issues.