National Public Policy, Legislation & Advocacy

Updated August 22, 2022

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. The Academy’s defined legislative and public policy priority areas, which are critical to achieving its mission, vision, goals and strategies, are outlined in its Strategic Plan Roadmap.

The Academy’s current priorities are focused around these main areas:

  1. Disease prevention and treatment

  2. Health equity

  3. Healthy food systems and access

  4. Lifecycle nutrition

  5. Quality health care

Read more about the Academy’s public policy priorities here.

Policy Initiatives and Advocacy Team

The Academy's Policy Initiatives and Advocacy (PIA) team, including the Vice President, Policy Initiatives and Advocacy, Manager of Federal Grassroots Advocacy, Senior Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs, 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, organize the Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit and guide the Academy’s grassroots activities at the state level.

Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit

Held annually, the Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit brings together RDNs and NDTRs from across the country to learn about key policy issues impacting the dietetics profession and our nation’s health. Attendees also sharpen their communication skills and at the end of the conference meet with members of Congress to discuss food and nutrition policy issues. They discuss key pieces of legislation designed to increase access to healthy food, nutrition services and MNT, asking members of Congress to sign on in support of specific bills or voting to pass bills to become law.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit (NDAS) was suspended in 2020 and 2021. Held virtually in 2022, MAND members held meetings with the offices of MA Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and many of the nine U.S. Representatives from MA to discuss the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act and Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

Virtual meetings continue throughout the year, the most recent held with the office of U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) to discuss the MNT Act and the Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Act. All MAND members are welcome to join meetings with their members of Congress, so please consider contacting us if you are interested! And keep checking this page for updates on the 2023 Summit.

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 117th Congress began on January 3, 2021 and will end on January 3, 2023. 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 2020-2021 session, the Academy’s main legislative priorities were:

The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act (S.4504/H.R.6971)

Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act (S.2747/H.R.3637) 

Support Access to Healthy Food and Nutrition Services

In the current 2021-2022 session, the Academy’s main legislative priorities are:

The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act (S.1536/H.R.3108)

The Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Act (S.2203/H.R.5804)

Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act

Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Learn more about the Academy’s main legislative priorities: https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/legislation/all-legislation 

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. Find and click on Massachusetts at https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/licensure/licensure-map

Learn more about the Academy’s efforts to protect consumers and strengthen regulation of the dietetics profession: https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/licensure/professional-regulation-of-dietitians 

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 Quarterly 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 who serve on an affiliate Public Policy Panel (PPP) may also subscribe to Public Policy Weekly News, which provides updates on a wide variety of policy issues.

Set your subscriber preferences at: 
https://www.eatrightpro.org/membership/member-benefits/publications-and-subscriptions

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.org account 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 at: https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/take-action/action-center

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!

Quarterly Advocacy Days

To provide more frequent opportunities for Academy members to meet (in person or remotely) with their members of Congress, the PIA office has established Quarterly Advocacy Days to coordinate affiliates’ policy and advocacy actions to amplify our voices on Capitol Hill. Recent Advocacy Days focused on policies for treating obesity as a chronic disease and to support MNT, IBT and medications for weight management.

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.


Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting

2022 ANCE will be virtual on Friday, March 25th. 

Public Policy

Public Policy

Do You Want to Make a Difference for Your Profession and Your Community?  Visit our Public Policy Section.