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Posted 5/3/2021

Prepared by Christopher Gallagher, OCC Washington Representative

Support for TROA Continues to Grow!

In early March, Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) introduced S. 596/HR 1577, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) in the Senate and House, respectively. Following the drop of the bill, Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) member groups have been continuously meeting with congressional staff of House and Senate members who were supporters of TROA in the previous Congress. These efforts continue to grow cosponsorship for the bill — now with 15 cosponsors in the Senate and more than 40 in the House!

During April, OCC Coordinator Chris Gallagher worked with member groups of the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) to generate additional outreach to these key Hill offices. For example, Jody Hoffman of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) contacted more than 100 House offices. Jody and Chris engaged with numerous Hill staff, which has resulted in 10 additional TROA cosponsors and many more offices working the bill through their internal approval process to get their Representative back on the bill. Additionally, former OMA Board of Trustees member Dr. Rick Lindquist met with 7 congressional offices from the Washington State delegation as part of OMA’s monthly advocacy days.

We urge obesity advocates to access the OAC’s Action Center for a legislative alert surrounding TROA, which will allow you to send a message to both your Senators and Representative to urge them to cosponsor this critical legislation.

Obesity Coverage Bills progressing through State Legislatures

Support Coverage of Bariatric Surgery and FDA-Approved Obesity Drugs in Connecticut Health Plans: Contact Key Legislators Today!

Connecticut State Senators Eric Berthel (R-32) and Saud Anwar (D-3) have joined with State Representatives Bobby G. Gibson (D-15) and Tom Delnicki (R-14) in cosponsoring legislation (SB-1007), which calls for the State Medicaid program and all private health insurance plans in Connecticut to provide robust coverage for metabolic and bariatric surgery and FDAapproved obesity drugs. This legislation passed a major hurdle in March when the bill was unanimously approved by the Joint Committee on Insurance and Real Estate.

Cosponsors for SB 1007 have also grown since the bill was first introduced — with the following state legislators adding their name to the bill:

Sen. Eric C. Berthel, 32nd Dist.
Rep. Bobby G. Gibson, 15th Dist.
Sen. Saud Anwar, 3rd Dist.
Rep. Tom Delnicki, 14th Dist.
Rep. Josh Elliott, 88th Dist.
Rep. Jill Barry, 31st Dist.
Rep. Dorinda Borer, 115th Dist.
Rep. Michael A. Winkler, 56th Dist.
Rep. John-Michael Parker, 101st Dist.
Sen. Will Haskell, 26th Dist.
Sen. Julie Kushner, 24th Dist.
Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, 106th Dist.
Rep. William A. Petit, 22nd Dist.

At the time of this report, SB 1007 was awaiting consideration in the Appropriations Committee. Help us reach out to key legislators in the Connecticut General Assembly! If you have a Connecticut address, please access the Obesity Action Coalition’s Action Center to send a pre-prepared message to your state senator and representative in support of SB 1007.

Support Louisiana State Employee Coverage of Bariatric Surgery

Louisiana State Senate Health Committee Vice Chair Regina Barrow (D) and fellow Committee member Gerald Boudreaux (D) have joined with House Health Committee Chair Larry Bagley (R) to introduce Senate Bill (SB) 150, which calls for coverage of bariatric surgery to treat severe obesity under the state employee health plan. This legislation recently passed a significant hurdle when it was unanimously approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on April 28th. The bill now moves to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

Louisiana obesity advocates are looking for patients and healthcare professionals to voice their support for this legislation. If you have a Louisiana address, please access the OAC’s Action Center where you will be able create a message that you can send to your state legislators to urge them to support final passage of SB 150.

Bill to provide Medicaid Coverage for Obesity Drugs Reintroduced in PA

On January 27, 2021, Pennsylvania State Representative Donna Oberlander introduced House Bill (HB) 293, which would allow FDA-approved medications that treat obesity to be covered under the state’s Medicaid program, if managed care organizations decide coverage for these drugs is medically necessary. Specifically, the legislation states that “an anti-obesity drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States shall be considered a compensable item under the medical assistance program.” On April 12th, the OAC sent a letter of support for HB 293 to the Co-Chairs of the House Health Committee. At the time of this report, Senator Joe Pittman was preparing to introduce the Senate companion bill to HB 293. The OAC is currently updating its Action Center to drive support for both the Oberlander and Pittman bills.

Medicaid Coverage of Obesity Drugs in Play in Minnesota

During April, Minnesota obesity advocates were able to insert a policy provision that would allow for Medical Assistance (Medicaid) coverage for FDA-approved anti-obesity medications (AOMs) into a large omnibus spending package that recently passed the MN House of Representatives. Work now focuses on maintaining that key provision when the Senate takes up its version of the spending bill. On April 23rd, the OAC sent a letter of support for the legislation and is currently working on an action alert to be posted early this month.

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