FMI has expressed its support of the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act, which aims to expand access to nutrition care for a wide range of diseases and medical conditions, including prediabetes, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, malnutrition, eating disorders, cancer, celiac disease, HIV/AIDS, and other conditions causing unintentional weight loss.
“The Food as Medicine Opportunity in Food Retail” report, developed jointly by FMI and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, found that consumers find personalized nutrition education services provided by their grocery stores, such as MNT, to be appealing.
Many FMI supermarket member companies offer one-on-one counseling with Registered Dietician Nutritionists, and “tele-nutrition” initiatives have expanded considerably throughout the pandemic, making it easier for customers to take advantage of personalized counseling services, according to FMI.
Increased access to MNT would be a cost-effective way to help tens of millions of seniors who suffer from one or more diet-related chronic conditions and a means to address health equity, FMI says.
Minority populations have historically faced chronic disease health disparities because of systemic inequalities, food insecurity, and reduced access to health care. Chronic disease rates are even higher among individuals from many racial and ethnic minority communities. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the gaps in our health care system and the impact on low-income and minority communities across the country when there is a lack of access to care.
Currently, however, Medicare only covers outpatient MNT services for diabetes and kidney disease, which means millions of seniors and other beneficiaries are either forced to pay out-of-pocket for nutrition care services or left without access to comprehensive care.
The legislation would grow the list of qualified providers authorized to refer their patients for MNT, adding nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and psychologists.