Simona Combi
Public Relations Manager

Arlington, VA (July 21, 2023) — The following is a statement by Ramsey Alwin, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), on the reintroduction of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA).

“We commend the efforts of U.S. Senators Tom Carper, D-Del., and Bill Cassidy, R-La.,  and Representatives Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, to address the alarming obesity crisis in America, where the adult obesity rate has reached a record high of over 40% and childhood obesity is on the rise. Obesity is linked to over 230 medical conditions and responsible for an estimated 400,000 deaths annually. About 18 million traditional Medicare beneficiaries with obesity are at risk of other serious conditions. The reintroduction of TROA is the right step for combatting this pressing health issue, and we hope it will become law soon.

“TROA would provide coverage for anti-obesity medications (AOMs) under Medicare Part D. These medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are proven to help individuals achieve significant weight loss, thereby reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

“TROA also would provide Medicare coverage for the full range of obesity treatments in all settings. Currently, Medicare Part B only covers Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT) in primary care settings, which limits access to nutrition counseling and behavioral therapy specialists and community-based programs. This bill needs to become law, so all qualified health practitioners can provide IBT to Medicare beneficiaries.

“This is also a matter of equity, given that obesity is one of the most serious health problems in Black and Latino communities. Overall, nearly half of Black people and 44.8% of Latinos are living with obesity, compared to 42.2% of white Americans. Other federal health insurance programs, like Tricare, cover AOMs and these treatments for members of the military and their families.  

“Yes, healthy eating and physical activity are important for good health and weight loss, but they are not enough to treat obesity. CMS and Congress should increase access of AOMs to Medicare beneficiaries who need them because the cost of inaction is far too high for both older adults and society.”