Proposed legislation introduced recently in the U.S. House and Senate would provide coverage for Medicare beneficiaries to get treatment from registered dietitian nutritionists for celiac disease and other common and costly chronic conditions.
Called the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act, it would expand access to registered dietitians for treatment of celiac disease and prediabetes, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, malnutrition, eating disorders, cancer, HIV/AIDs and any other disease or condition causing unintentional weight loss. Currently, only diabetes and renal disease, qualify for medical nutrition therapy under Medicare Part B.
The Senate version of the bill would also allow the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to further expand access to the treatment without additional legislation from Congress and would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to refer their patients.
Medical nutrition therapy is a nutrition-based treatment provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist. It includes a nutrition diagnosis as well as therapeutic and counseling services.
Consultation with a dietitian with expertise in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, which is currently the only treatment available, is widely recommended by celiac disease experts. Nutrition counseling is widely covered by many insurance plans, with the Affordable Care Act providing improved access to preventative services for the general patient population, according to Today’s Dietitian, a trade publication for registered dietitians and other nutrition professionals.
The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act was introduced recently by Representatives Eliot Engel and Pete King and Senators Susan Collins and Gary Peters (H.R. 6971/S. 4504). You can help support its passage by urging your members of Congress to co-sponsor and vote for the legislation.
You can find out more about the House and Senate bills here.