The Health Care Reform Bill was signed on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. Now, I have not read this bill that is several thousands of pages in length. However, I want to share with you some of the provisions that impact health care from a nutrition standpoint.
Healthy Aging: Preventive Services for Adults 55-64
A grant program for state and local health departments and Indian tribes will be established. The grant will be used to provide public health interventions, preventive screenings, and referral/treatment for chronic diseases for individuals 55-64 years-old. Some of the intervention activities include improved nutrition and increased physical activity levels.
Wellness and Prevention Programs for Employees
This provision will allow the Department of Health and Human Services along with the Department of Labor to provide discounts for wellness and prevention programs that are deemed beneficial to employees. The discount may be up to 50 percent of your insurance premium.
A 5 year grant will be established to provide incentives for implementing a healthy lifestyle. This includes weight loss, cholesterol reduction, diabetes prevention, and diabetes management. The grant will cover preventive services that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and will eliminate cost sharing for prevention services. The grant won't be effective until January 1, 2011. (FYI - The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will be established when the bill is passed into law.)
The bill also allows Medicaid to provide medical home waivers for state-coordinated programs focusing on diabetes prevention and treatment, cardiovascular disease treatment, and weight loss. This will increase the Medicaid coverage provided when you work with nutritionists and dietitians.
Nutrition Labeling of Menu Items at Restaurants
This provision requires restaurant chains (those with 20 or more outlets) to include calories on menus, menu boards (such as drive through menus), and food display tags. Additional nutrition information will have to be available and provided upon customer request, such as fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, protein, and fiber. The intent is for the information to be uniform and consistent within a restaurant chain and between different restaurants to reduce confusion and make the information consistent. It doesn't look like this will go into affect until 1 year after bill passed into law.
Child Obesity Demonstration Project
The Child Obesity Demonstration Project will be fully funded with $25 million. The goal of the project will be to reduce childhood obesity in community-based settings, including schools. The project will provide education, counseling and training activities.
Health care reform has been a hot topic with strong opinions for and against. While change and the unknown is always a little frightening, I'm going to remain optimistic that the Health Care Reform Bill will provide some much needed benefits. Please feel free to share your thoughts below.