Obesity coverage: patient advocacy toolkit
Advocating for obesity treament
As a patient, you have the power to advocate and impact the future of obesity treatment in the U.S by sharing your story and experience. By contacting your elected officials in Congress, you can help lawmakers understand why obesity should be recognized as a long-term, or chronic, disease and advocate for more access to affordable, effective obesity treatment and care.
Find the tools and resources you need to contact your elected officials in Congress and urge them to support the passage of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) [H.R. 4818/S. 2407].
This legislation is a vital first step in expanding access to obesity treatment: TROA would expand Medicare coverage to include screening and treatment of obesity from a diverse range of health care providers who specialize in obesity care, as well as include coverage of prescription drugs for long-term weight management, behavioral counseling and other prevention and treatment options. Because many private insurance companies model their covered health benefits to reflect Medicare beneficiaries, the passage of TROA could lead to more obesity care coverage for all Americans.
Use the tools below to contact your Congressperson.
Reach out to Congress
There are many ways to contact your elected officials. AGA has created messages to help you reach out to your elected officials by email, phone or letter.
Who is my elected official?
Make sure you are reaching out to the appropriate elected official by using the tools below.
To identify the House representative for your district, type your zip code into this search engine.
To identify your state Senators, visit this page and select your state from the dropdown menu at the top of the page.
Send an online message
Email is a fast and easy way to contact your elected official. Find your representative and send them a message through AGA’s advocacy action center. Note, you will need to create an account to access the action center.
Make a phone call
Calling your member of Congress is a useful way to ask for expanded access to obesity treatment and care. Keep in mind that Congressional office phones are often answered by staff, who will take your message and share your concerns with your elected official.
Use this phone call script (see page 8). If you’re comfortable, you can share your story.
Send a letter
Sending a letter to your Congressperson is another way to ask for increased obesity treatment and care. Letters can take many weeks to be reviewed, so making a phone call or sending an online message is sometimes better for important issues. Send an online message now through AGA’s advocacy action center. Note, you will need to create an account to access the action center.
If you would prefer to write a letter, get started by downloading a template letter (see page 4) that can be personalized and mailed to your representative.
To identify the House representative for your district, type your zip code into this search engine. Once you’ve identified your House representative, find the corresponding mailing address by typing his or her name into the search bar at the top of this page.
To identify your state Senators and find their mailing addresses, visit this page and select your state from the dropdown menu.
The following standard address can also be used to contact your Senators:
The Honorable (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
General tips for communicating with government officials
- Talk to the elected official using his or her full, correct title.
- Introduce yourself as a constituent, including your name and where you live.
- Keep your message short and respectful.
- Describe the issue, support your position with facts and include a call to action.
- Share your personal reasons for supporting specific legislation and how it affects your larger community.
Share your story
As a patient living with obesity, your story can help Congressional lawmakers understand the need for greater access to obesity treatment tools and coverage. We encourage you to share your experience to be used in the media or in conversations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill as we push for expanded access to obesity care.
Consider including the following details in your story:
- How long have you lived with obesity?
- How has obesity affected your personal life and choices, including your career, family and relationships, and day-to-day lifestyle?
- What treatment/care options have you tried?
- Have you encountered any problems with insurance coverage of your obesity treatment and care?
You may submit your story with your name, or anonymously. By including your name, you give AGA permission to share your story.
Use social media
Social media is a powerful way to engage, influence and inform your friends and followers about the issues that matter most to you.
Here are messages you can use to amplify the importance of obesity treatment and care and garner support for the passage of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). Remember to tag your Senator or Representative to encourage them to act!
More than 40% of American adults have obesity and many do not have access to the care they need. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans by expanding access to a full range of affordable treatment options, including lifestyle counseling, prescription drugs and endoscopic procedures. Join me in the movement to #PassTROA! [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
Option 1: More than 40% of American adults have obesity, but many insurance plans do not cover the treatment and care they need. The #TreatAndReduceObesityAct will make sure all Americans can access the care they need. We need your support to #PassTROA! [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
Option 2: #Obesity affects more than 40% of Americans – but many insurance plans do not cover necessary treatments. The #TreatAndReduceObesityAct will change that by expanding access to affordable, effective care. Join me in the fight to #PassTROA! [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
Option 1: More than 40% of American adults have obesity, but many insurance plans do not cover the treatment and care they need. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act will make sure all Americans can access the care they need. We need your support to Pass TROA! [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
#PassTROA #TreatandReduceObesityAct #obesity #gastroenterology #GIconditions
Option 2: #Obesity affects over 40% of Americans – but many insurance plans do not cover necessary treatments. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act will change that by expanding access to affordable, effective care. We need your support to Pass TROA! [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
#PassTROA #TreatandReduceObesityAct #obesity #gastroenterology #GIconditions
Contact the media
Working with your local newspaper through an opinion editorial (op-ed) can be an effective way to raise awareness about the need for increased access to obesity care.
Download a template op-ed (see page 6).
Here are tips and guidelines for writing and submitting an op-ed:
- Research the news outlet to which you want to submit an op-ed.
- Make sure your article is within their guidelines and writing style.
- Keep your main message to the point. Many news outlets have a 400-600 word limit.
- Include your personal connection to the issue and describe why it is a timely issue.
- Include research or facts to support your point of view.
- Look up the editor’s email address on the news outlet’s website and send in your writing.
- Accept small changes the editor may want to make to ensure proper grammar and writing style.
- Don’t give up! Try another news organization if the first one does not accept your submission.
This program is supported by an independent grant from Novo Nordisk.