Last week, FoodMinds participated in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit. This virtual event was attended by nearly 500 health and nutrition advocates from across the country. After two partial days of training, attendees virtually met with their U.S. Senate offices to advocate for two of the Academy’s top policy and advocacy efforts: medical nutrition therapy expansion and nutrition security in the upcoming Farm Bill.
Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) Act
According to the CDC, 90% of the nation’s $4.1 trillion annual health care expenditures is spent on treating chronic and mental health conditions. Many of the costliest chronic conditions that affect Medicare beneficiaries could be prevented, managed, or treated with medical nutrition therapy (MNT) as part of the patient’s treatment plan. Provided by a registered dietitian, MNT is a cost-effective and evidence-based application of the Nutrition Care Process with a goal to prevent, delay, or manage diet-related diseases or conditions.
The MNT Act would provide coverage under Medicare Part B for MNT for a variety of chronic conditions beyond diabetes and renal disease, which are already covered. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports this bill that would allow Medicare beneficiaries to access the care they need by amending the Social Security Act to:
- Provide Medicare Part B coverage of outpatient MNT for prediabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, malnutrition, eating disorders, cancer GI diseases including celiac disease, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease and any other disease causing unintentional weight loss.
- Authorize the Secretary of Health to include other diseases based on medical necessity.
- Allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to refer their patients for MNT. This addition especially impacts rural and medically underserved areas that rely more heavily on nonphysician practitioners.
2023 Farm Bill
The Farm Bill, first enacted in 1933, is the primary agricultural and food policy instrument of the U.S. Government and ensures we have a safe and affordable food supply that enhances the public health. The overarching goals of the 12 sections, or titles, in the Farm Bill are to keep food prices fair for farmers and consumers, ensure an adequate and nutritious food supply, and sustain the nation’s environmental resources.
The last Farm Bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) is up for reauthorization, and the Academy has identified three key priority recommendations to ensure that the next iteration of the Farm Bill maintains the integrity of nutrition assistance programs, ensures vital funding for nutrition education and nutrition research, and improves marketplace, demand, and equitable access to nourishing foods:
- Support nutrition security and health equity by improving access to healthful and culturally appropriate foods and resources through strengthening and expanding federal nutrition programs and interventions such as SNAP, SNAP-Ed, GusNIP, TEFAP, CSFP and more.
- Create a diverse workforce and ensure sound science and program evaluation for future evidence-based decision making that is grounded in promoting health equity. Prioritize funding for research that informs development and enhancement of nutrition program content, monitoring and evaluation, and guidance for strengthening consumer education campaigns.
- Support initiatives that foster a healthful and sustainable food system by supporting producers and retailers of all sizes, with an emphasis on those from underrepresented groups to meet current and future demand for healthful and diverse foods.
If you are a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, head over to the Action Center to use the tools and resources to share your expertise and views with your elected officials – both as a voter and a food & nutrition expert.
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Carmen Berry, MPH, RD, LD is an account supervisor at FoodMinds, a division of Padilla, in our Chicago office. She also serves on the board of the Missouri Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as their public policy coordinator.