In a recent article from thought leader and former Legislator Pam Roach, she outlines just how dire the need for the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act to be passed by Congress. If passed, chronic weight loss medication would be added to Medicare Part D (the prescription drug benefit).
While Roach’s home state of Washington is ranked 35th in obesity, our home state of Louisiana is 7th. Obesity affects 42% of Americans, according to the CDC, and the extensive range of diseases that are caused by obesity cost the United States billions every year.
Specifically, taxpayers dole out $92.2 billion a year through Medicare, and another $200 billion is spent outside of the system for medical conditions related to obesity, says Roach. Medicare pays for heart attacks, strokes, and so many other complications when we could be working to prevent taxpayer dollars from being needed.
These weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are used by millions of Americans every year, and as Roach so eloquently put it, “For most of us this is not a lifestyle drug. It is a life drug.” While these drugs were originally created for treating high blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes, it has also been proven to be effective in shedding unnecessary pounds quickly, as well as being an appetite suppressant.
But it's not just up to the American people, it's up to our legislators. Senator Cassidy of Louisiana sponsored this bill years ago, and continues to do so while advocating for its benefits for all Americans. It should be a no-brainer that Senator Kennedy should follow suit in supporting his home state.
As for the House, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana should find it necessary to support this legislation. Two such powerful voices are sure to be heard should they rise to the occasion and support legislation that could change the landscape of our state.
Should this bill pass, the American people will see a decrease in the cost of the Medicare system and benefit from the access to weight loss drugs.The stigma of obesity in the U.S. is potent and negative enough that most people forget that it is considered a disease by the American Medical Association that kills millions every year. However, Congress can do something to change the narrative as well as save lives.
Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act.