Prepared by Christopher Gallagher, OCC Washington Representative
Momentum for TROA Increases
In late September, congressional support for S. 596/HR 1577, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) grew to 105 supporters when Senator Lujan (D-NM) and Representatives Amodei (R-NV), O’Halleran (D-AZ), Jeffries (D-NY), Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Levin (D-MI) cosponsored the legislation. Currently, 17 Senators and 88 House members are on record supporting TROA!
OCC member groups are also working closely with the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) to encourage congressional leadership and the relevant key healthcare committees to incorporate TROA into the “human infrastructure” legislation that Democrats are attempting to pass via the reconciliation process. OCAN is highlighting how TROA would be in line with other Medicare modernization provisions in the legislative framework for the package that would expand coverage for hearing, dental and vision care services.
OCAN also spearheaded three September 14th coalition letters signed by more than 100 health and obesity care advocacy organizations — including the National Urban League, National Black Nurses Association, League of Latin American Citizens, Black Women’s Health Imperative, National Hispanic Medical Association, and WW International Inc. — urging leaders on Capitol Hill and in the Administration to follow the science and provide treatment options for the growing number of Americans living with obesity who lack access to comprehensive care. This large coalition cited future passage of TROA as a critical step toward making this idea a reality.
PA Senate Committee Approves SB 782 for Medicaid Coverage of Obesity Drugs
On September 27, 2021, the Pennsylvania Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill (SB) 782, which is being championed by Senator Joe Pittman. SB 782 is companion legislation to Pennsylvania State Representative Donna Oberlander’s House Bill (HB) 293, which would allow FDA-approved medications that treat obesity to be covered under the state’s Medicaid program. This is a major step and paves the way for SB 782 to be considered by the full Senate. Given that Representative Oberlander’s legislation has been unanimously approved by the House during the last two legislatures, obesity advocates are feeling positive about final passage of both bills before the end of the year.
During the hearing, Committee Chair Susan Brooks spoke to the tremendous grassroots support for the legislation — citing letters of support from numerous healthcare providers across the state. Special thanks to Pennsylvania obesity advocates Ted Kyle and Drs. Vicki March and Verlyn Warrington who coordinated a great deal of these grassroots efforts in support of SB 782.