Society Letters

OCAN Letter to the Administration

September 20, 2021

Dear Mr. Klain, Ambassador Rice, and Director Richmond:

"We write to you today in your capacity as the leaders of the Administration-wide effort to advance racial equity so boldly established in President Biden’s January 20, 2021 Executive Order. Consistent with the goals of that order, we urge you to take action now on a critical health equity crisis: the growing number of Black and Latino people living with obesity who lack access to comprehensive care for this chronic disease.

The obesity epidemic is one of the most serious health equity issues impacting our country, affecting 42 percent of Americans. As a top comorbidity for serious cases of COVID-19 and death, obesity disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities, who are nearly three times as likely to be hospitalized for severe cases of COVID-19 than whites. Obesity is also linked to more than 200 serious health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes.

Even though obesity is an epidemic that can lead to additional serious health issues, Black and Latino communities can’t access the health care needed to treat the disease. That’s because of outdated Medicare rules that perpetuate harmful inequities and deny lifesaving care to millions of seniors."

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