I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to update you on a few ASMBS initiatives. As we all know, bariatric surgery is safe and effective and we have as a major societal goal to increase access, awareness and education regarding this life-saving intervention. Please read this message regarding our efforts and also complete this attached survey. The survey can help provide guidance for the society as we move forward so please complete: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/F9FR2HL
- Ohio now provides bariatric surgery through its Medicaid program
- WA and OR improve state health exchange coverage for bariatric surgery
- USA Today Ad May 25, 2015 (Obesity Doesn’t Discriminate: Neither Should State Health Exchange Plans)
- Congressional Briefing on Sleep and Obesity – ASMBS/AASM Presidents
- VA Project-Extend Veterans Administration Provision of Bariatric Surgery
- It Starts Today – Public Service Announcements October 2015
- It Starts Now – ASMBS Film Festival Announcement with Red Carpet Event at ObesityWeek, November 5, 2015
- Obesity Week-End, June 25-27
- ObesityWeek, November 2-7
- BOLD Data Released
Through Joe Northup and many others’ efforts, I am proud to report that the State of Ohio now offers bariatric surgery through its Medicaid program. We now have 49 of 50 States Medicaid plans providing bariatric surgery. Only Montana Medicaid remains without benefit coverage and I trust that newly transplanted John Pender will soon advocate for Big Sky Country to obtain Medicaid bariatric surgery coverage.
The Leave No State Behind Campaign led by Wayne English (Access-Chair), Brandon Williams (Access-Co-Chair), and John Scott (Access-Co-Chair) is the ASMBS initiative to achieve bariatric surgery coverage in all 50 states’ Essential Health Benefit (EHB) Plan. This initiative is now bearing some Northwest fruit. Valerie Halpin (OR ASMBS Chapter President) reports that the chapter’s advocacy efforts have persuaded some qualified health plans within the state’s health exchange to begin offering coverage for bariatric surgery. While this does not translate into bariatric surgery being viewed as an EHB under the Oregon state health exchange, it does signal that health plan coverage for surgical intervention continues to grow. In other Northwest news, the great work of Bob Michaelson (WA State ASMBS Chapter President), Bruce Wolfe, Chris Gallagher, Brian Sung and Rick Lindquist led the Washington State Health Care Authority – Health Technology Assessment Group to recommend expanding the bariatric surgery benefit for both state employees and the State Medicaid plan. The Committee voted in favor of expanding state health plan coverage to include BMI 30 – 35 with Type 2 Diabetes! Hopefully this expansion of coverage for state employees and Medicaid beneficiaries will be a spring board for the Washington State Chapter’s efforts to secure EHB coverage for bariatric surgery in the state health exchange.
In addition to state-level efforts to achieve bariatric surgery coverage for each state health exchange, ASMBS is pursuing a federal approach with lobbying and an ad (Obesity Doesn’t Discriminate: Neither Should State Health Exchange Plans) placed in USA TODAY’S HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SPECIAL EDITION (5/25). The HHS edition will reach officials at HHS headquarters, including the Centers for Medicaid Services, the NIH, FDA, CDC, as well as its regional offices, City/State Health Departments and senior administrators at over one hundred of the leading research universities and hospitals in the nation. The ad also includes a link to a petition calling for obesity treatment coverage:
Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler (President, American Academy of Sleep Medicine) and myself conducted a US Congressional Briefing on Sleep and Obesity on May 20, 2015. By working with all members of the medical community, we can collectively raise awareness regarding obesity and its treatment.
- A JAMA publication on Jan 6, 2015 demonstrated a 58% reduction in 10-year mortality for obese veterans undergoing bariatric surgery vs. obese veterans who did not have surgery. Despite these specific data, an average of only 250 bariatric surgery procedures were performed annually within all Veterans Administration (VA) Hospitals. I have asked George Eid and Dan Eisenberg to lead our VA initiative to have at least one hospital in each VA region (called VISN) to provide bariatric surgery. If you operate at a VA hospital and want to help, please let me know. As we remembered our fallen veterans this past Memorial Day, let us work now to help our veterans by providing accessible, safe and effective bariatric surgery.
It Starts Today: As you aware, ASMBS debuted the motivational video at ObesityWeek 2014 depicting the success stories of surgical weight loss for a nurse, military veteran, and NFL Player. This video is available for all to use and we are editing the video to use as a 30 second public service announcement in selected local media markets in October to coincide with open enrollment. https://asmbs.org/it-starts-today
- It Starts Now Film Festival: We propose to leverage the native talent in the media community by creating a national competition to create a five-minute film, animation or presentation, which raises awareness of obesity and its treatment. A cash prize will be awarded during ObesityWeek for the Top Films at gala event on November 5. We are forming an influential Selection Committee Drawing From Medicine, Entertainment and Media. This process will be highly publicized to derive maximal exposure to the need to treat obesity. Many thanks to our ASMBS staff, PR representative Roger Kissin, ASMBS Secretary- Treasurer Stacy Brethauer, and ASMBS President-Elect Raul Rosenthal for helping to drive this initiative. Submit a video today! http://itstartsnow.asmbs.org
- Press Release: https://asmbs.org/video-it-starts-today-obesity-surgery-helps-people-reclaim-their-lives
I want to encourage you to attend our two signature events Obesity Week-End and ObesityWeek, led by Program Committee Chair and Co-Chair, Aurora Pryor and Michel Gagner. Obesity Week-End in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace will be a meeting to remember with Revisions, Sleeve, Intra-Gastric Balloon, MBSAQIP Clinical Reviewer, and Practice Building Courses. Don’t Miss It! http://owe.asmbs.org/
I look forward to seeing everyone in Los Angeles for ObesityWeek 2015. It will be a special meeting with new courses and events. We had 417 abstract submissions this year, which is up from last year. We will also have a special ceremony for our Fellows of the ASMBS. Also note the new FASMBS and International FASMBS program is now open and taking applications. Find out more about it here (https://asmbs.org/become-fellow-american-society-metabolic-bariatric-surgery). See you in Hollywood! https://obesityweek.com/
- Thanks to Executive Council member Ranjan Sudan and his Research committee team for providing a BOLD Public Use File for any ASMBS member to use (http://asmbs.org/asmbs-bariatric-surgery-center-of-excellence-participant-use-data-file). These data are preoperative variables and 30-day outcomes for over 200,000 bariatric surgeries. With this file available, more can be learned from what we do.
Please let me know if you would like to help ASMBS by joining a committee or donating to our ASMBS Foundation.
With very best wishes,
John M. Morton, MD