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Ohio congressman wants weight-loss drugs covered by Medicaid

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(The Center Square) – Americans on Medicaid moved closer to receiving coverage for weight loss treatments nearly a year after an Ohio congressman introduced legislation to expand access.

Rep. Dr. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, has wanted U.S. taxpayers to pay for weight loss drugs through Medicare since he introduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act in July.

Wenstrup, a physician, also introduced the Ensuring Access to Critical Breakthrough Products Act, which would give Medicare patients four years of temporary Medicare coverage for Federal Drug Administration-designated breakthrough devices after approval.

Both acts are poised for a full House vote, having recently received the green light from the House Ways and Means Committee.

“As a physician and lawmaker, I have worked to ensure patients can access critical health care treatments they need,” Wenstrup said. “The House Ways and Means Committee’s actions today to increase access to critical breakthrough medical devices and expand coverage of weight loss treatments and medications for Medicare beneficiaries are a strong step toward that goal. I look forward to a full House vote so we can continue to work to make America the healthiest nation on the planet.”

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would provide Medicare Part D coverage for anti-obesity medications for people aging into Medicare and are currently using the drugs. It would also reevaluate its National Coverage Determination of Intensive Behavioral Therapy to allow seniors to be treated through diet and exercise.

“With two out of three adults in the United States currently obese or overweight, Congress has a responsibility to remove inappropriate barriers to new medications that can help us fight back against the chronic disease epidemic in America that is linked to obesity,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Missouri.

The second act would tighten the criteria for breakthrough devices eligible for coverage and require FDA-approved breakthrough devices to have clinical trial information that includes the Medicare population.

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