Obesity coverage: provider advocacy toolkit
Advocating for obesity treament
As a health care provider who treats patients with obesity, you have the power to impact the future of obesity treatment in the U.S. by sharing your experience treating patients. By reaching out to your elected officials, you can educate them about the reality of obesity as a complex, chronic disease that impacts multiple systems of the body—from the cardiovascular and endocrine to the psychological and gastrointestinal. You can impress upon them the importance of embracing a multifaceted and sophisticated treatment approach.
Your expertise can help lawmakers understand the urgent need for expanded access to affordable, effective obesity treatments and how greater access to these tools will equip you to better care for your patients.
Find the tools and resources you need to reach out to your elected officials 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. Non-members can also access the online portal by creating an account.
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
- Address the elected official with his or her full, correct title.
- Introduce yourself as a constituent, including your name, where you live, and your credentials and/or areas of expertise as a health care provider.
- Describe the issue, support your position with facts, and include a call to action.
- Offer your expertise as a health care provider who provides care and treatment for patients with obesity.
- Keep your message short and respectful.
Share your story
As a gastroenterologist or other medical provider who treats patients with obesity, your story can help 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 as testimony on Capitol Hill as we advocate for expanded access to obesity care.
Consider including the following details in your story:
- Your credentials and areas of expertise.
- How long you have been treating patients with obesity.
- The connection between obesity and GI or other health conditions.
- How obesity has affected your patients’ personal lives and choices, including their career, family and relationships, and day-to-day lifestyle.
- What treatment/care options you have recommended to your patients and any problems they have encountered with insurance coverage.
- Any instances in which insurance coverage limitations have prevented your patients from undergoing your recommended course of treatment.
Encourage action on 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 but millions of them are denied access to effective care because of current Medicare rules. Our patients deserve better. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would expand Medicare coverage to include prescription drugs for chronic weight management, behavioral counseling and other prevention and treatment options. Help us care for patients better. Join me in the movement to Pass TROA and expand access to obesity care. [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
#Obesity affects more than 40% of Americans – but many insurance plans don’t cover necessary treatments. The #TreatAndReduceObesityAct can change that. Our patients deserve better. #PassTROA! [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
Obesity affects more than 40% of Americans – but many insurance plans won’t cover necessary treatments. Our patients deserve better. The Treat And Reduce Obesity Act will change that – join me in the movement to Pass TROA! [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
#PassTROA #TreatAndReduceObesityAct #obesity #gastroenterology #GIconditions
Patients with obesity are expected to lose weight, but many insurance plans unduly limit the support they can receive for the treatment they need. Our patients deserve better. The #TreatAndReduceObesityAct will expand access to affordable, effective care. Help us care for patients better. #PassTROA [tag Senator or Representative] @AmerGastroAssn
Engage the media
In addition to reaching out to your elected official directly, engaging with your local newspaper through an opinion editorial (op-ed) is an effective way to raise awareness about the need for expanded access to obesity care.
Download a template op-ed (see page 6).
Tips and guidelines for writing and submitting an op-ed are included below:
- Research the news outlet to which you want to submit an op-ed and ensure your piece is within their guidelines and writing style.
- Keep your message concise. Many news outlets have a 400-600 word limit.
- Include your personal connection to the issue and describe why it is timely and important.
- Include research or facts to support your point of view.
- Look up the editor’s email address on the news outlet’s site and send in your writing.
- Accept any small changes the editor may want to make to ensure proper grammar and writing style.
- Try another news organization if the first one does not accept your submission.
This program is supported by an independent grant from Novo Nordisk.