Public Policy and Advocacy

ASPEN advocates on behalf of the field of clinical nutrition to drive improvements in clinician experience and patient outcomes. Our scope includes high priority issues pertaining to nutrition support, including working in coalition with other like-minded organizations, as appropriate. Our advocacy objectives include working with the U.S. Congress, the Executive Branch (including HHS, NIH, regulatory agencies, CMS, and AHRQ), public/private groups, and the courts. The objectives of the ASPEN Public Policy and Advocacy Program are to:

  • Improve the quality and safety of all patients/consumers receiving nutrition support
  • Advocate for fair reimbursement to ensure that beneficiaries of government funded health programs receive the highest quality nutrition support care
  • Sponsor the concept of a fair marketplace that does not jeopardize the provision of safe and quality nutrition support
  • Advocate for and support initiatives to better define, diagnose, and treat disease related malnutrition

How to Take Action: Getting Involved

Many initiatives take involvement from ASPEN stakeholders. You can help by reaching out to legislators at the state and federal level and call or email them to share your opinion. Here are steps to take:

  1. Federal Congress: Go to www.congress.gov to find out your Senate or House members.
  2. Each of the lists provides their office phone numbers and email address.
  3. State level: enter https://www.XX.gov/  with XX the abbreviation for your state - For example www.PA.gov is the official state of Pennsylvania website.
  4. Use the letter template here to create your communication.

Call to Action: Priority Issues

  • Malnutrition Awareness WeekTM (MAW) 2021 State Proclamation
    MAW is October 4-8, 2021. MAW is an annual, multi-organizational campaign created by ASPEN in 2012 to: educate healthcare professionals about early detection and treatment of malnutrition; educate consumers/patients on the importance of discussing their nutrition status with healthcare professionals, and; to increase awareness of nutrition’s role on patient recovery. Help raise malnutrition awareness in your community by asking your governor to formally proclaim October 4-8, 2021, as Malnutrition Awareness Week in your state. A proclamation is a ceremonial document and declaration on behalf of the entire state. They influence policy discussions, public awareness, and offer opportunities to engage the public and elected officials. ASPEN’s goal is to have all 50 states recognize MAW this year.  

    To learn more about submitting a proclamation in your state click here. ASPEN makes this easy by providing suggested language for your request. 

  • Malnutrition Awareness Week (MAW) 2021 Senate Resolution
    In 2020, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate to recognize Malnutrition Awareness Week 2020, which was passed, Senate Res. 716, recognizing October 6=5-9, 2020 as Malnutrition Awareness Week 2020.  ASPEN will be seeking a Senate resolution in 2021. Check back for updates! 

  • Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), Bills S.1536/H.R.3108
    Companion bill S.1536/ H.R.3108 introduced in the 117th Congress in May 2021, expands Medicare coverage of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) services. Currently, Medicare covers MNT only for individuals with diagnosed diabetes or kidney disease and post-kidney transplant and requires a physician referral. The bill extends coverage to individuals with other diseases and conditions, including malnutrition, prediabetes, obesity, eating disorders, cancer, and HIV/AIDS, hypertension, dyslipidemia, gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions causing unintended weight loss. This legislation also allows nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and psychologists to refer patients for MNT. 

    S.1536 is sponsored by Sen.Collins, Susan M. [R-ME] and has 2 cosponsors (8/18/2021)

    H.R.3108 is sponsored by Rep. Kelly, Robin L. [D-IL-2] and currently has 17 cosponsors (updated 8/23/2021)

  • Medical Nutrition Equity Act, S.2013/H.R. 3783
    A campaign by Patients & Providers for Medical Nutrition Equity, a coalition whose members include ASPEN and more than 40 other provider and patient organizations, led to the reintroduction of the Medical Nutrition Equity Act ( S.2013/ H.R.3783) in the 117th Congress in June 2021. The bill seeks to expand coverage under Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs and private health insurance to include foods, vitamins, and individual amino acids that are medically necessary for the management of certain digestive and metabolic disorders and conditions. 

    S.2013 is sponsored by Sen. Casey, Robert P. Jr [D-PA] and currently has 11 co-sponsors (updated 8/18/2021)

    H.R.3783 is sponsored by Rep. McGovern, James P. [D-MA-2] and currently has 42 co-sponsors (updated 8/23/2021)
     
  • Safe Step Act, S.464/H.R.2163
    Reintroduced in the 117th Congress is the Safe Step Act ( S.464/ H.R.2163) in February and March, respectively. The purpose of this legislation is to improve step therapy protocols and ensure patients are able to safely and efficiently access the best treatment for them. The bill requires a group health plan to establish and exception to medication step-therapy protocol in specified cases. The bill also requires a group health plan to implement and make readily available a clear process for an individual to request an exception to the protocol, including required information and criteria for granting an exception. The bill further specifies timelines under which plans must respond to such requests.

    S.464 is sponsored by Sen. Murkowski, Lisa [R-AK] and currently has 27 co-sponsors (updated 8/18/2021)

    H.R.2163 is sponsored by Rep. Ruiz, Raul [D-CA-36] and currently has 82 co-sponsors (updated 8/18/2021)
     
  • Revised EN and PN Medicare LCD
    Future LCDs for EN and PN have been published and will become final/permanent in early September 2021. The documents are currently under review. A summary and education for nutrition support clinicians is being planned. Additional information can be found here: Enteral Nutrition; Parenteral Nutrition.
     
  • Patient Access to Medical Foods Act H.R. 56
    Re-introduced in the 117th Congress in January 2021 is the Patient Access to Medical Foods Act, H.R. 56. This bill provides for coverage of medical foods under Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and TRICARE. The bill also requires private health insurance providers to cover medical foods. Generally, a medical food is a food prescribed by a physician for the dietary management of a disease or condition. The bill also expands this definition to include a food prescribed as a therapeutic option when a physician determines that traditional therapies are inappropriate for the patient. This bill is intended to amend the Orphan Drug Act to recognize Medical Foods and assign them a National Drug Code (NDC) to improve reimbursement.

    H.R.56 is sponsored by Rep. Biggs, And [R-AZ-5] and currently has no co-sponsors. (updated 8/18/2021)
     
  • Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act S.2652
    In August 2021, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the US Senate in the 117th Congress that will ensure Medicare patients maintain access to home infusion therapies that require the use of an infusion pump.  The Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act provides technical clarifications that removes the physical presence requirement from Medicare’s current home infusion therapy benefit, ensuring payment regardless of whether a health care professional is present in the patient’s home. The legislation also acknowledges the full scope of professional services delivered by home infusion clinicians, including essential pharmacist services. The act also permits nurse practitioners and physician assistants to establish and review a home infusion plan of care, in addition to a physician.

    S.2652 is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner [D-VA] and Sen Tim Scott [R-SC]. (updated 8/18/2021)