A press release from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that more than 30% of men and women who receive Medicare are considered obese. Medicare will begin offering those individuals obesity screening and counseling as part of a preventive services package under the Affordable Care Act. Primary care physicians administer the screening and then refer eligible individuals for counseling. A referred individual will receive once-
per-week face-to-face counseling for 1 month, followed by one session every other week for another 5 months. If weight loss is achieved during the first 6 months, the individual then receives one counseling visit per month for a further 6 months.

“This decision is an important step in aligning Medicare’s portfolio of preventive services with evidence and addressing risk factors for disease,” says Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, chief medical officer and director of the agency’s Office of Clinical Standards and Quality. “We at CMS are carefully and systematically reviewing the best available medical evidence to identify those preventive services that keep Medicare beneficiaries as healthy as possible for as long as possible.”