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NATIONAL PUBLIC POLICY, LEGISLATION & ADVOCACY
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.
Read more about the Academy’s legislative and public policy priorities at https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/legislation/all-legislation
The Academy’s current legislative priorities include the following:
Policy Initiatives and Advocacy Team
The Academy's Policy Initiatives and Advocacy (PIA) team, including the Manager of Grassroots and State Advocacy, Senior Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs and Vice President of Policy Initiatives and Advocacy, 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 (formerly, Public Policy Workshop) and guide the Academy’s grassroots activities at the state level.
Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit
Held in Washington, DC, 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 travel to Capitol Hill to 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.
The 2019 Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit was held on July 11th and 12th and six MAND members visited the offices of our two U.S. senators and nine U.S. representatives to discuss the Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Act (DSMT) and Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). The next Advocacy Summit is being planned for spring 2021.
Each Congress lasts two years, with two one-year sessions. The current 116th Congress began on January 3, 2019 and will end on January 3, 2021. 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 2019-2020 session, the Academy’s main legislative priorities were:
Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Act (S.814/H.R.1840)
Click here to read the Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Act issue brief for Academy members.
Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (S.595/H.R.1530)
Click here to read the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act issue brief for Academy members.
In the 2020-2021 session, the Academy’s main legislative priorities are:
The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act (S.4504/H.R.6971)
This bill amends the Social Security Act to expand Medicare Part B coverage of outpatient MNT for obesity, prediabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, malnutrition, cancer, celiac disease, eating disorders, HIV/AIDS and any other disease or condition causing unintentional weight loss. It also authorizes nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to refer patients for MNT.
Click here to read the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act issue brief for Academy members.
Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act (S.2747/H.R.3637)
Fostering diversity in allied health professions, including nutrition and dietetics, via funding of health programs in minority-serving institutions.
Click here to learn more about the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act.
Support Access to Healthy Food and Nutrition Services
The bill call for increasing both the SNAP minimum and maximum allotments and providing emergency relief funding for school nutrition programs, given the ongoing pandemic.
Click here to learn more about Supporting Access to Healthy Food and Nutrition Services.
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
The Academy was extremely pleased with CMS’ final rule, issued on May 7, 2014, permitting RDNs in hospitals to be privileged to independently order therapeutic diet and monitor and manage dietary plans for their patients. The Academy is actively 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.
Learn more about the Academy’s work to increase RDNs’ ability to write therapeutic diet orders at https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/licensure/therapeutic-diet-orders-state-status-and-regulation
Licensure and Professional Regulation of Dietitians
The Academy works to support affiliates in the 47 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 in the three states without such provisions to continue their efforts to obtain such provisions. Doing so protects the public by ensuring they are able to identify and access qualified professionals with the knowledge, skills and competency to provide safe and ethical nutrition therapy.
For more information on dietetic licensure in Massachusetts, see the Licensure Information section under the Professional Development tab. Find the licensure map and click on Massachusetts. https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/licensure/licensure-map
Learn more about the Academy’s efforts to protect consumers and work to strengthen regulation of the dietetics profession at https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/licensure/professional-regulation-of-dietitians
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” 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.
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 you would you like to join MAND members from your congressional district to visit your member of Congress, or if you would you like to invite your member of Congress to visit your workplace, please email email@example.com.
Quarterly Advocacy Days
To provide more frequent opportunities for Academy members to meet with their members of Congress, the PIA office has established Quarterly Advocacy Days. These days are organized so that those able to travel to Capitol Hill on the date established meet at the PIA office in Washington, DC, to learn more about the policies and bills being supported, then travel together to meet with members of Congress. A recent Quarterly Advocacy Day, held on September 20, 2019, focused on policies for treating obesity as a chronic disease and to support Medical Nutrition Therapy and other means of weight management.
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 Malnutrition Today https://www.defeatmalnutrition.today