Need for HIV Medical Nutrition Therapy
- What is Medical Nutrition Therapy
- Why is medical nutrition therapy important to HIV infected persons?
- What can you do to help?
- How to Communicate with Legislators
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy?
Medical nutrition therapy refers to specific nutrition procedures including assessment and interventions in the treatment of an illness, injury or disease condition. Medical nutrition therapy procedures define the level, content and frequency of nutrition services that are appropriate for optimal care and nutrition outcomes. There are several components to medical nutrition therapy. Screening may be completed by a registered dietitian (RD), dietetic technician registered (DTR), or other healthcare professional. The RD generally initiates the medical nutrition therapy service. The nutrition care process includes assessment, establishment of client's self-management goals, development of a nutrition plan, documentation, communication with the primary care provider, evaluation and reassessment, and outcomes measurements.
Why is medical nutrition therapy important to HIV infected persons?
Nutrition is a life sustaining treatment. Good nutrition is important in building and maintaining the immune system. Achieving nutritional health and preventing malnutrition are essential in maintaining good health for people living with HIV. The major goals of HIV medical nutrition therapy are:
- To optimize nutrition status, immunity and overall well being.
- To prevent specific nutrient deficiencies.
- To prevent loss of weight and lean body mass.
- To maximize the effectiveness of medical and pharmacological treatments.
- To minimize health care costs.
Research shows that medical nutrition therapy saves lives, reduces morbidity, improves health outcomes, and reduces healthcare costs and patients' length of hospital stay. There is growing appreciation toward nutrition as an important component in medical care, however lack of coverage by health care plans is the major barrier to the publics' access to medical nutrition therapy. A major breakthrough recently occurred when Congress passed a bill providing Medicare coverage of medical nutrition therapy for diabetes or renal (predialysis) diseases. Congress is now considering an amendment to cover cardiovascular disease.
What can you do to help?
In addition to medical nutrition coverage for cardiovascular disease, coverage for HIV medical nutrition therapy is also critical. Congress must hear from the HIV affected communities for action to occur. Contact your Federal legislators and educate them on why medical nutrition therapy is vital to successful HIV medical care. Tell them to support the amendment to cover cardiovascular disease (HR 2117 / S 960) and that you also want them to introduce a bill that would cover medical nutrition therapy for HIV.
Sample Letter — This link shows a sample letter that you may copy and personalize for your own use. See below for more information on what to say and who to contact.
How to Communicate with Legislators
- Personal Letter
- Personal Visit
- Form Letter
- E-Mail Message
What to Say
- If the legislator you are writing was a cosponsor of the Medicare Medical Nutrition Therapy Act of 1999 (HR 5661), thank them! Acknowledge that the inclusion to cover diabetes and renal disease in HR 5661 and its passage is important and very appreciated. Check these lists to see whether he/she was a cosponsor:
Does this refer to the list below or something else?
- Emphasize that HIV medical nutrition therapy also needs to be included in Medicare under part B and their continued efforts are needed.
- Give examples of why nutrition is vital in HIV medical care, how it will optimize positive health outcomes and minimize health complications and will ultimately cut health care costs.
- Thank them again and urge for their support to include HIV medical nutrition therapy as a Medicare benefit under part B.
Who to Contact A. Your Representatives The most powerful contacts you can make are with your own legislators. Each US citizen (except those in Washington DC) is represented in Congress by:
- One member in the United States House of Representatives
- Two members in the United States Senate
To identify your legislator, go to www.congress.org
, enter your home zip code and click "Go." B. Congressional Leaders All Members of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee All Members of the Senate Finance Committee
- Nancy Johnson, CT
- Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee
- Ms. Johnson was the sponsor of the Medicare Medical Nutrition Therapy Act for the 105th and the 106th Congressional Sessions. She understands the value of medical nutrition therapy and how it will save money, and she has worked hard to strengthen Medicare and assure passage of Medicare medical nutrition therapy.
- Web Site www.house.gov/nancyjohnson/ E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Phone (202) 225-4476 Fax (202) 225-4488 D.C. Address 2113 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515-0706 District Office New Britain District Phone (860) 223-8412
- Bill Thomas, CA Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee (R-CA)
- Web Site www.house.gov/billthomas/ E-mail email@example.com Phone (202) 225-2915 Fax (202) 225-8798 D.C. Address 2208 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515-0521 District Office Bakersfield District Phone (661) 327-3611
- Charles B Rangel, NY Ranking Democrat of the House Ways and Means Committee
- Web Site www.house.gov/rangel E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Phone (202) 225-4365 Fax (202) 225-0816 D.C. Address 2354 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515-3215 District Office New York District Phone (212) 663-3900
- Michael Bilirakis, FL Chair of the House Commerce Health Subcommittee
- Web Site www.house.gov/bilirakis/ E-mail email@example.com Phone (202) 225-5755 Fax (202) 225-4085 D.C. Address 2269 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515-0909 District Office Clearwater District Phone (727) 441-3721