U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, has reintroduced a bill that would require insurance companies to cover the cost of medically necessary nutrition for patients with select disorders.
The Medical Nutrition Equity Act, or H.R. 2587, was first introduced two years ago but died in committee. It would secure insurance coverage for food and vitamins for people with digestive and metabolic disorders, applying to private insurance companies, as well as federal health coverage programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
“This is a commonsense, preventative solution that will lead to health care cost-savings, and more importantly, will save lives,” Herrera Beutler said in a media release.
According to the text of the bill, insurance would be required to cover the cost of foods for patients with inherited metabolic disorders, such as N-acetyl glutamate synthase deficiency, those with disorders that prevent them from fully absorbing nutrition, such as short bowel syndrome, and those with inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease.
The bill is narrowly targeted. People with gluten allergies, including those with celiac disease, are specifically excluded. H.R. 2587 also doesn’t extend to people with diabetes, or those on doctor-ordered diets to lose weight or lower cholesterol.
Thirty-five states have already passed some version of a law guaranteeing coverage for medically-necessary nutrition, but specifics vary from state to state, and federal insurance programs aren’t included. Many insurance companies that do pay for specific nutrition — which often costs four or five times as much as normal food — stipulate the formula must be administered through a feeding tube in order to be covered.
“For the thousands of children and adults who suffer from digestive and inherited metabolic disorders, their lives depend on having access to medically specialized foods and vitamins. For conditions like Phenylketonuria (PKU), treatment with medical foods allows children to grow up to lead normal, productive lives. However, without treatment, patients experience severe brain damage, malnutrition, repeated hospitalizations and may be forced to rely on residential treatment,” Herrera Beutler said. “I’m pleased to join this bipartisan bill to ensure these patients have access to medically essential foods.”
Reintroduced last week, the bill was co-sponsored by Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass. He said H.R. 2587 would help prevent malnutrition, disability and death in people with metabolic and digestive disorders.
“Medically necessary nutrition is not a luxury for them,” McGovern said. “It’s a health-related necessity and it should be covered by health insurance.”
Let’s block ads! (Why?)
Powered by WPeMatico