By Krystal Register, MS, RDN, LDN, Senior Director, Health & Well-being, FMI, and Peter Matz, Director, Food & Health Policy, FMI 

Dietitian_Office_Telenutrition_LaptopMedical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) is defined as evidence-based nutrition treatment provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), to include a nutrition diagnosis along with therapeutic and counseling services to prevent, delay or manage chronic disease and medical conditions. MNT has been shown by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to be a “cost-effective component of treatment for obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, HIV infection, unintended weight loss in older adults and other chronic conditions.” Counseling provided by an RDN as part of a health care team ensures the best possible nutrition-related health outcome and can positively impact weight, blood pressure, blood lipids and blood sugar control. 

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. 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. 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.   

From The Food as Medicine Opportunity in Food Retail report (developed jointly by FMI and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation), we know that consumers find personalized nutrition education services provided by their grocery stores, such as MNT, to be very appealing. Many FMI supermarket member companies offer one-on-one counseling with RDNs, and “tele-nutrition” initiatives have expanded considerably throughout the pandemic, making it even easier for customers to take advantage of personalized counseling services. 

Considering the many benefits to providing equitable access to MNT in Medicare, FMI supermarket member companies want to be part of the solution. FMI is proud to support the bipartisan Medical Nutrition Therapy Act (H.R. 3108/S. 1536), which would expand Medicare MNT coverage to include 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. Importantly, the legislation would also grow the list of qualified providers authorized to refer their patients for MNT, adding nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists.

We are pleased to support the MNT Act to expand access to nutrition care. Please consider joining FMI and the many other organizations that have signed up to support this important legislation by filling out this form