On March 24, 2017, Dr. Chengelis visited Capitol Hill lobbying for The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). Dr. Chengelis was joined by lobbyist Chris Gallagher who has spent several years working tirelessly as an advocate for improving the treatment of obesity. They spent time at the offices of Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow discussing this legislation which would expand Medicare coverage to allow experts in obesity to deliver Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT) and include new and exciting obesity drugs already approved by the FDA to be covered by Medicare Part D. The legislative staff in each office were very receptive to our concerns.
Dr. Chengelis also presented information regarding the safety of bariatric surgery and effectiveness in both treating obesity, which since 2013 has been officially designated a chronic illness, and in the prevention of other chronic health conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, vascular disease and cancer. His hope is convince lawmakers to include provisions in future legislation that vastly improve access to bariatric surgery which presently suffers greatly due to profound bias. Unfortunately, the cultural bias against people suffering from obesity has lead to a tremendous misunderstanding of this chronic illness and unfounded practices by providers and the insurance industry that limit access to the most effective treatment, bariatric surgery.
Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated bariatric surgery has an excellent safety record and is the most effective treatment of morbid obesity. Persistent advocacy through lobbying our lawmakers with informative educational visits is one way a doctor can help his patients outside of the hospital. It is exciting to be a part of this endeavor. Once more, Dr. Chengelis thanks the offices of Senator Gary Parks and Senator Debbie Stabenow who he hopes will step forward and be a part of improving obesity treatment.