You may have heard the news recently – it was widely reported – that Medicare made a decision to cover Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity. In the past, Medicare has only covered nutrition counseling for diabetes and renal disease. While this is good news, there is a major problem with their ruling– it has excluded registered dietitians, like the ones in our department at St. Anthonys, from being able to directly provide obesity treatment for Medicare patients. This would be like deciding to offer coverage for physical therapy treatment but not by a qualifed physical therapist. I think I can speak for most dietitians in saying that we feel very passionately about our professions and have worked very hard to become “the experts in nutrition” in order to best help our patients.
Perhaps you’re asking, if not RDs, than who can provide this treatment? Nutrition counseling for obesity under Medicare will now fall under the primary care physician’s (and some other healthcare professional’s who are not RDs) responsibility. Granted, there are some MDs that are knowledgeable about nutrition, however in a recent survey of primary-care physicians, 78 percent said they had no prior training on weight-related issues. After all, this isn’t most primary care MDs specialty.
Number one: This ruling doesn’t make sense. Number two: This would take away the time that physicians have to care for the medical concerns of their patients. Registered dietitians have the knowledge, training, experience and time to devote to patients.
Please sign this petition to help us – registered dietitians, the nutrition experts. We need 25,000 signatures for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reconsider their decision. It won’t take long – maybe 2 minutes – to register for an account (free) and sign. Please note though that apparently the site has been a bit finicky – so if it doesn’t open in Internet Explorer, please try in Firefox, or another web browser. I signed yesterday! Here is the link: http://wh.gov/DWX.
On behalf of other dietitians, my associates and myself, thank you so much for your time and help. Please forward this post to anyone you think might be interested too!
Liz Patton, the Registered Dietitians and Certified Diabetes Educators at St. Anthony’s