The Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission is tasked with evaluating the financial structure of the Alabama Medicaid Agency and recommending ways to increase efficiency while also improving patient care.
Researchers at Penn State and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston presented a new data analysis of obesity and obesity counseling that may be instructive to the Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission. The study was reviewed at the Innovations Report website on Jan. 9, 2013.
Researchers analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for the years 1995 to 1996 and 2007 to 2008.
“Despite the current obesity epidemic, patients seen in 2007-2008 had 46 percent lower odds of receiving weight counseling, with counseling occurring in only 6.2 percent of visits in that year. At the same time, the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese increased from 52.1 percent in 1995 to 63.3 percent in 2008.”
“In 2003, the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that physicians screen all patients for obesity and offer counseling and interventions to promote sustained weight loss.”
“Barriers for physicians to offer weight counseling include pessimism that patients can change, time limitations during appointments and thinking that their training for lifestyle counseling is inadequate.”
“Other reasons may be that counseling services are not reimbursed, the researchers said, or that as physicians see rising rates of obesity among their patients, they offer less counseling because of a perceived lack of success.”
Perhaps the Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission could offer incentives to physicians to offer obesity counseling and a reduction in Medicaid benefits to those persons who are obese and refuse to accept and follow those counseling guidelines.