Strong Majority of Americans Support Strengthening Medicare Law To Require Coverage of Obesity Programs

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than two years after the American Medical Association declared
obesity a disease, a strong majority of Americans believe Congress
should approve legislation to require Medicare to cover FDA-approved
medicines to treat obesity.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe Medicare should invest in
programs to reduce the rate of obesity, according to a national Ipsos
poll commissioned by The Gerontological Society of America. The poll
also found:

  • 89 percent of Americans believe obesity is a problem in their state.
  • 71 percent of Americans believe Medicare should expand coverage to
    include prescription obesity medicines.
  • 77 percent were unaware that federal law specifically prohibits
    Medicare from covering patient costs for prescription obesity
    medicines.
  • 73 percent of Americans were unaware that the FDA has found that
    current prescription obesity medicines are safe and effective in
    treating obesity.

Under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Medicare is prohibited
from covering prescription obesity medicines. In the 13 years since the
legislation passed, however, multiple medicines have been approved as
safe and effective by the FDA.

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which was introduced by Congress last
year, would require Medicare to cover prescription obesity medicines.
The legislation enjoys significant bipartisan support including 11
cosponsors in the Senate and 125 cosponsors in the House.

“Public policy and society seldom associate obesity with advanced age,”
The Gerontological Society of America Executive Director and CEO James
Appleby said. “But recent research has shown that, for those who are
over 65 and significantly overweight, the risk of mortality is far
greater that it is for younger individuals with excessive body weight.
The preponderance of evidence is clear: Obesity at an older age carries
with it a plethora of health problems like diabetes and heart disease
and the likelihood of premature death.”

“Medicare must begin covering medicines to treat obesity because chronic
diseases are a primary driver of higher costs in the Medicare system –
and, as we know, obesity is a primary cause of chronic disease,” former
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. “Common
sense tells us that if Medicare begins covering these medicines, it
would reduce the long term costs associated with obesity-related chronic
diseases.”

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted December 9-15, 2015
on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. For the survey, a
sample of 1,006 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and
Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility
interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.
Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender,
age, region, race/ethnicity and income.

About The Gerontological Society of America

The
Gerontological Society of America
(GSA) is the nation’s oldest and
largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education,
and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society
— and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and
disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the
general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National
Academy on an Aging Society
, and an educational branch, the Association
for Gerontology in Higher Education
.

About Ipsos

Ipsos
Public Affairs
specializes in public opinion research that relies on
smart design to understand challenging topics. Our Strategic
Communications Research & Consulting
team works with clients to
ensure they are equipped with the right information, know the key
audiences and have the best insights to achieve their goals. Ipsos
Public Affairs specializes in research for media release and is one of
the most quoted polling organizations in North America and around the
world.

Contacts

GSA Contact:
Todd Kluss, 202-587-2839
tkluss@geron.org
or
Governor
Thompson Contact:
Tony Jewell, 609-576-3800
tony@boardwalkpr.com