The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, announced Monday that it opposes the American Health Care Act now being considered by Congress.

In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Lucille Beseler said the current version of the bill “fails to improve the health of all Americans” and will “worsen patient care and public health.”

“The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics opposes the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as detailed in committee drafts released by the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means. This proposal would eliminate investments in prevention and public health, reverse advancements made in disease prevention and chronic care management, and according to non-partisan analysis, would result in the loss of health care coverage for at least 15 million Americans,” Beseler says.

The Academy holds five key tenets for analyzing any legislation to reform health care:

1. The health of all Americans should improve as a result of our health policy choices. Sufficient resources must be made available to ensure optimal health.

2. Access to quality health care is a right that must be extended to all Americans.

3. Nutrition services, from pre-conception through end of life, are an essential component of comprehensive health care.

4. Stable, sufficient and reliable funding is necessary for our health care system to provide everyone access to a core package of benefits.

5. Health care must be patient-centered.

“The proposal set forth in the AHCA not only fails to improve the health of all Americans, but it will worsen patient care and public health by removing vital resources that are currently effective in improving health across the country. The Academy believes that all Americans should have both coverage and access to quality health care. Affordable access to health care is an ongoing challenge that any health care reform legislation should address.

“Although this legislation purports to provide access, it fails to make coverage more affordable; unaffordable access to coverage is really not coverage at all. The proposal fails to maintain a core package of benefits that improve the health of Americans by removing a basic floor of services that should be provided without cost-sharing to the Medicaid population,” Beseler says.

“By repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the proposal eliminates the sole federal investment in prevention, which will harm our state and local communities that depend on these effective public-private partnerships to improve the health of their communities,” Beseler says.

“The AHCA as currently drafted fails to meet the Academy’s five tenets, and therefore we cannot support the passage of these proposals. Furthermore, we urge Congress to not hold future votes without an evaluation from the Congressional Budget Office estimating of the budgetary impact of the proposals and the anticipated effect on coverage for Americans.

“We look forward to continued collaboration to improve the health and nutrition for all Americans,” Beseler says.

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