Society Letters

OCAN Letter to House of Representatives

September 20, 2021

Dear Chairman Pallone, Ranking Member McMorris Rogers, Chairman Neal, and Ranking Member Brady:

"Thank you for your leadership throughout the public health emergency. We write today to raise awareness and call for action to address an urgent health care epidemic: the growing number of Americans living with obesity who lack access to comprehensive care for this chronic disease.

Obesity is one of the most significant health equity issues facing the country with 49.6% of Black Americans and 44.8% Latino Americans living with obesity, and it’s a top comorbidity for serious cases of COVID-19 or death. In fact, 78% of people who were hospitalized, placed on a ventilator or died from COVID-19 were affected by obesity or overweight. 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.

Yet as the Delta variant spreads at an alarming rate, and health disparities grow more extreme, obesity care is out of reach for our nation’s most vulnerable older adults because of outdated Medicare rules that perpetuate stigma and inequity."

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