Among the features of the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, is one requiring all health plans to cover Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) beginning in 2014. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will determine what the EHBs will be and that is no easy task!
Last October, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would host a series of public meetings to gather information from stakeholders across the country. After national celiac leaders presented their views in Washington DC, local leaders had the opportunity to be heard. The ACDA was represented by its members in Chicago, by Carol Shilson (The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center), in Dallas by David Kline (Gluten Intolerance Group), and in San Francisco by Jennifer Iscol (Celiac Disease Foundation). Each conveyed a critically important message, that nutritional counseling or medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietitian (RD) is an ESSENTIAL benefit and must be included within the preventive and wellness services under the Affordable Care Act.
Why this benefit? Nutritional counseling is a cost-effective health service used to help prevent the onset of potentially life-threatening and costly health conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Such services are also used to help manage lifelong, chronic medical conditions such as celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes.
Like Type 1 diabetes, celiac disease is self-managed. The only course of treatment is strict adherence to the medically prescribed gluten-free diet. A registered dietitian is specially trained to assess and diagnose nutritional deficiencies and to provide interventions to meet the dietary needs of individuals with this chronic condition. The cost of managing life-long medical conditions such as celiac disease are reduced when patients are provided appropriate dietary guidance and monitored by a trained dietitian.
The ACDA is continues to advocate for nutritional counseling to be covered as an essential health benefit under the Affordable Act.