Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease Responds to Release of Biden Administration Budget, Urges Additional Actions to Address Obesity’s Impact on Communities of Color
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease released the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s recently released budget — and its proposed efforts to combat the growing obesity epidemic, which disproportionately impacts communities of color.
“While the leaders of the Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease are pleased that the administration adopted our recommendations around expanding Medicare to include coverage of nutrition and obesity counseling, a lot more needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic — especially for communities of color that are being disproportionately impacted by the chronic disease. The obesity epidemic is growing with alarming speed, rippling consequences across Black and Brown communities. These communities deserve access to the full continuum of care — which includes medication treatments. Medicare still denies access to FDA-approved obesity medications that could help turn the tide in communities of color. We’re at a critical moment, and we urge the Biden administration to take a bold and major step forward — including updating outdated Medicare coverage policies to ensure that Black and Brown Americans living with obesity have access to the full continuum of treatment and care.”
In December, the Coalition declared a health emergency for communities of color being disproportionately impacted by the growing obesity epidemic, and called on Congress and the Biden administration to prioritize a series of five urgent actions for 2023 — including eliminating discriminatory Medicare policies that deny people of color access to comprehensive obesity treatment. The coalition — which includes prominent civil rights leaders and medical experts — warned that the current obesity epidemic is becoming “a health crisis that will spur irreversible consequences,” and that if policy makers fail to act next year, marginalized communities will be further plunged into costly and dangerous battles with the chronic disease.
The obesity epidemic is one of the worst public health crises in the U.S. It has surged to unprecedented levels — with 60% of Black women and nearly half of all Black and Hispanic Americans now living with obesity. The number of states with high rates of adult obesity more than doubled since 2018. Despite this dangerous surge, Medicare continues to exclude FDA-approved anti-obesity medications from Medicare Part D coverage. This is a discriminatory and outdated policy from 2003 that hasn’t been updated to align with breakthroughs in obesity care and treatment in the twenty years since Part D was enacted — and which continues to deny comprehensive treatment to communities of color both reliant on Medicare and disproportionately shouldering the burden of obesity.
For more information — or to request an interview with one of the leaders of the Coalition — please contact Shafeeqa Kolia at email@example.com.