For those readers that aren't in the profession, here's a little background information on what's been going on and why it's important in this country's fight against the obesity epidemic: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service recently announced that it would reimburse specific health professions (MDs, psychiatrists) for billing for Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity in the primary care setting but that it would not reimburse dietitians for this. The reason that we as a profession are fighting for our rights to bill for this code is because Registered Dietitians are the premiere health care professional trained in counseling for obesity and overweight.
How it Impacts Healthcare
RDs are the most effective at tailoring a nutrition care plan to each individual and helping them to reduce their weight. With this memorandum, obese persons with Medicare and Medicaid will have very limited access to dietitians until they have Diabetes (which RDs can currently bill for, along with Chronic Kidney Disease Stage IV and V). It saddens me that a potentially live-saving preventive service is not going to be able to be offered by myself and other RDs, as we are a group of providers that have been able to produce the best results. On top of that it is a very needed among those utilizing Medicare and Medicaid.
While I am personally disappointed in this I am and will continue to help in the fight for improved billing for our profession. Thank you to everyone who aided in signing the White House Petition. If you're a fellow RD and haven't done so already, please go to the the Grassroots Manager on eatright.org and send your legislators your thoughts on the matter.
And while there's a lot more to delve into on the topic it's too complicated to make into a blog post... feel free to comment and we'll continue the conversation.