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National Public Policy, Legislation & Advocacy

Updated February 19th, 2024

General

The Academy and Public Policy

As a state affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy), the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MAND) promotes public policy and advocates for issues in line with those of the Academy.

Every three years, the Academy updates its public policy goals to align current advocacy strategies to the mission and vision of the organization. The goals advance the impact of the Academy in each of the following four strategic focus areas:

  • Well-Being and Prevention

  • Nutrition Security and Food Safety

  • Nutrition Care and Health Systems

  • Diversity and Inclusion

Available now on eatrightPRO.org, the public policy priorities for 2024-2026 are as follows:

1. Equitable access to nutrition services provided by qualified practitioners

  • Modernize and create uniformity among nutrition and dietetics state licensure laws and regulations.

  • Enact the Dietitian Licensure Compact in seven key states and initiate steps to form the Compact Commission.

  • Advance MNT coverage and payment for preventive and chronic disease care investment in nutrition research that will help reduce the national burden of diet-related chronic diseases.

2. Federal programs that increase access to nutritious, safe, culturally relevant and affordable foods that improve health and well-being

  • Support SNAP-Ed, nutrition incentives, and regular updates to the Thrifty Food Plan.

  • Advocate for no-cost healthy school meals for all children.

  • Strengthen sustainable food systems that foster access to and the availability of healthful foods.

3. Evidence-informed, inclusive Dietary Guidelines for Americans that embrace cultural and diverse dietary patterns

  • Participate in the development, dissemination and implementation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

  • Integrate the expertise of Academy members and groups into the scientific recommendations to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

  •  Support alignment of federal food and nutrition programs and services with Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations.

4. Maximize funding for federal nutrition programs and services, workforce diversity initiatives and educational opportunities for health professions

  • Advocate for programs, services, and grants whose funding is appropriated in federal agencies.

  • Lobby for increased reimbursement rates and payment defined by rules and regulations for federal nutrition programs and dietitian services.

 

Those interested in adding their support to these efforts are encouraged to join the Academy's Advocacy Affinity Groups, which are monthly forum-based events where staff, policy leaders and members connect to discuss advocacy priorities and strategies.

Policy Initiatives and Advocacy Team

The Academy's Policy Initiatives and Advocacy (PIA) team is located in Washington, DC, where it serves as the Academy’s voice on Capitol Hill. The work of the PIA team complements and supports the work of state affiliates and individual members to promote food and nutrition policies at the national level.

PIA staff members lead the Academy’s consumer protection and licensure efforts and meet with government agencies such as USDA, FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss regulatory issues. They meet with members of Congress to promote nutrition-focused policy and contribute to conferences such as the White House Conference on Huger, Nutrition, and Health and the National Food Policy Conference.

The PIA team also assists affiliates in reaching out to their members of Congress, known as the “congressional delegation.” The MA congressional delegation includes two U.S. Senators and nine members of the U.S House of Representatives.

https://www.senate.gov/states/MA/intro.htm 

https://www.house.gov/representatives#state-massachusetts


Interested in learning more about nutrition public policy at the federal level? Visit https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy 


Legislation

U.S. Congress

Each Congress lasts two years, with two one-year sessions. The current 118th Congress began on January 3, 2023 and will end on January 3, 2025. Every new Congress, the Academy works with members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to find sponsors and cosponsors of bills in line with the Academy’s stated public policy priorities. Bills which are not passed by Congress to become law during a session of Congress “die in session” and need to be reintroduced in the new Congress. Thus, bills supported by the Academy vary over time, as bills get passed, die in session, or are reintroduced in a new session. Academy staff in Washington, DC, work with nutrition champions on Capitol Hill to get new bills introduced and to get bills from the previous Congress reintroduced.

In the current 2023-2024 session, the Academy’s main legislative priorities are:

  • Funding critical health and nutrition programs in 2023 and 2024

  • Advancing a Farm Bill supporting a nourishing, affordable, sustainable food supply

  • Medical Nutrition Therapy Act (MNT Act)

  • Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA)

Learn more about the Academy’s main legislative priorities and take action: https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/take-action/action-alerts.


Regulation

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

When Congress passes a bill into law, one or more government agencies are identified to write regulations to explicitly outline the specifics of the law. For example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the health care agency overseeing the health care of over 100 million Medicare and Medicaid recipients, writes and updates regulations to reflect major health care legislation, such as new preventive services under the Affordable Care Act. Importantly, CMS regulations impact the large percentage of Academy members working in clinical and outpatient settings. In addition, many states’ Medicaid and commercial insurance plans follow suit, covering conditions and reimbursing RDNs for MNT services in line with CMS.

Therapeutic Diet Order Writing

In May 2014, CMS ruled that RDNs in hospitals could be privileged to independently order therapeutic diet and monitor and manage dietary plans for their patients. The Academy remains involved in the continued rollout of the new rule, providing support to affiliates and members working in clinical dietetics seeking to be privileged to work within this new, enlarged role.

Licensure and Professional Regulation of Dietitians

The Academy works to support affiliates in the 48 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who currently have statutory provisions regulating the dietetics profession or associated titles, such as “licensed dietitian/nutritionist.” It also works with affiliates to continue their efforts to obtain new or strengthen existing licensure provisions.

For more information on dietetic licensure in Massachusetts, see the Licensure Information section under the Professional Development tab on the MAND website.

For further information on licensure across the U.S. visit: https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/licensure/licensure-map-and-statutes-by-state 

For information on the Academy’s efforts to strengthen regulation of the dietetics profession visit:

https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/licensure/why-licensure 


Advocacy

The Academy and Advocacy

The Academy calls upon its members to support legislation and issues important to our profession and provides background information and the means for doing so. These include “Action Alerts,” “Take Your Congressperson to Work Day” and Advocacy Days. Members may edit their Academy correspondence subscriber preferences and receive regular e-newsletters, such as Eat Right Weekly and Nutrition and Dietetics SmartBrief. Those interested in public policy and advocacy may also subscribe to Public Policy Weekly News, which provides updates on a wide variety of policy issues.

Set your email subscriber preferences at: https://www.eatrightpro.org/account/my-academy 

Action Alerts

“Action Alerts” are sent out by the Academy throughout the year as bills or resolutions supported by the Academy are introduced or up for a vote in the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives, or, if a government agency is planning to implement or change current regulations. Members are urged to take a few minutes to log into their www.eatrightpro.orgaccount to use the Academy-provided tool, the “Academy Action Center,” to send pre-written electronic letters to their members of Congress. With only a few keyboard strokes, members can personalize the letters and include their contact information.

Learn more athttps://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/take-action/action-alerts 

Take Your Congressperson to Work

Each August, Congress recesses and members work from their home district offices. This district work period provides the opportunity for Academy members to meet with their members of Congress to provide further information on key pieces of legislation supported by the Academy. The Academy suggests that during this time members may also wish to organize an opportunity to “take their Congressperson to work,” inviting them to see the important work they do in their role as RDN in the private, public or non-profit sector. If this is something you might like to do, let the PPP know!

National Alliances

To expand the reach of its national advocacy campaigns, the Academy joins national advocacy alliances working on a variety of health and nutrition issues. Examples of these are the Obesity Care Advocacy Network https://obesitycareadvocacynetwork.com and Defeat Nutrition Today https://www.defeatmalnutrition.today.

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President's Welcome

Hello friends,

April brought a whirlwind of activity with ANCE on April 5th and Day on the Hill (DOTH) on April 8th!

With “food as medicine” front and center in the healthcare crisis today, we were thrilled to host Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, one of the leading global experts on this topic as our keynote speaker!

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JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Funded MS or PhD Graduate student Fully funded graduate assistantships for RDNs or RDN-eligible students in a full-time MS or PhD program in Health Promotion Sciences beginning fall 2024 at the University of Connecticut. Successful.. Read more >

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MDEF Scholarships

For 2024, MDEF will be giving out two MDEF scholarships and one MDEF Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) scholarship to deserving nutrition students, each in the amount of $1500. Please pass along to any nutrition students or interns who may be eligible to apply!

All applications are due by May 31st