Medicare pays for expensive bariatric surgery as well as treatments for more than 200 comorbidities linked to obesity—including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers—but not for new medicines that scientists have developed that can address the disease itself.
This is bad public health policy, it is harmful to patients, and it is inconsistent with a focus on care management and disease prevention. It also imposes a substantial financial burden on the nation.
Congress needs to revisit Medicare’s prohibition on covering anti-obesity medications as the science has evolved and as a new generation of effective treatments has become available.
Prevention saves money and lives. As the obesity problem grows, patients should be able to decide for themselves in consultation with their physicians on treatment plans from the full range of options, including the new class of anti-obesity medicines that can bridge the gap between diet and exercise and bariatric surgery.
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