Morgan Downey, STOP Alliance Policy Advisor, weighs in on where Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is today as it moves closer to the key date, October 1, 2013. What do you need to know? Individual mandate? State exchanges? Essential health benefits?
A recent JAMA article (2014;174:615) that critiqued the FDA’s decision to approve Belviq and Qsymia for weight loss included the following statement: “Although treatment options are limited, obesity is not an emergency – it is not even a disease, but rather a risk factor for disease.” This statement has sparked a vigorous debate.
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View Dr. Richard H. Carmona’s, 17th U.S. Surgeon General and the Alliance’s Health and Wellness Chairperson, letter of support for the Essential Health Benefits Task Force recommendations here.
Coalition’s Diverse Steering Committee Offers Nonprofit Hospitals Research-Based, Consensus Recommendations to Address Obesity
Washington, DC, April 30, 2013 – The nation’s more than 2,900 nonprofit hospitals are facing new requirements to qualify for federal tax-exempt status under the Affordable Care Act, including producing a Community Health Needs Assessment that identifies local health needs. With obesity affecting more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of children in the United States, the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance released five research-based, consensus recommendations today to help guide nonprofit hospitals in developing programs that address obesity in their communities.
“The new federal community health benefit requirement presents a critical opportunity to address obesity at the local level, given the role nonprofit hospitals play in improving a community’s health,” said Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, Director of the Alliance. “With the federal value of the hospital tax benefit estimated to be in the billions of dollars, there is a lot at stake. The challenge will be to empower hospitals to build efficient and evidence-based programs for addressing obesity while avoiding common pitfalls, such as weight stigma and unrealistic expectations. ”
The Alliance strongly encourages nonprofit hospitals to base programs designed to overcome and prevent obesity on the following core principles:
“These recommendations offer hospitals a research-based range of opportunities to invest in community health as part of their community benefit activities,” said Sara Rosenbaum, Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. “Counseling and programs that create community healthy living options have been shown effective in controlling weight and improving patient health.”
There are many ways that nonprofit hospitals can use these recommendations to tailor community interventions around obesity. For example, health care organizations may address obesity by using individual-based strategies with counseling techniques as well as system strategies that address community health needs around healthy living. A nonprofit hospital can build programs around the evidence showing that helping patients to lose five to ten percent of their body weight, or helping communities engage in more physical activity, can lead to significant health improvement.
In addition to this set of recommendations, the Alliance will conduct an expert roundtable to further explore issues around obesity program design and implementation as it pertains to the Community Health Needs Assessment reporting requirement and Implementation Strategy. From this roundtable, the Alliance will work to provide hospitals with a set of examples and best practices in community-based obesity programming and evidenced-based research in community building options targeted at healthy weight.
“It’s our hope that the STOP Obesity Alliance recommendations encourage meaningful action to address obesity,” said Kahan. “Certainly there is not a one-size-fits-all obesity program for every community across America. But if the programs adhere to the health-focused recommendations developed by STOP’s cross-section of diverse stakeholders, that is a great place to start.”
About the STOP Obesity Alliance
The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance is a collaboration of nearly 70 consumer, provider, government, labor, business, health insurer and quality-of-care organizations working to drive innovative and practical strategies that combat obesity. The Alliance receives funding from founding sponsor, Sanofi. For more information, visit www.stopobesityalliance.org and follow the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter.