Officials want obesity recognized as disease - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Officials want obesity recognized as disease

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(06/18/14) - A top public health official wants state and federal lawmakers to recognize obesity as a disease.

A major player was part of the discussion in Lansing, Wednesday.

Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was in Lansing to urge Congress to pass legislation requiring Medicare to cover obesity medicines for seniors.

He joined Michigan's Health Director, James Haveman, who said his department will soon have a screening and background check program for state-paid aides who provide in-home help for disabled Michiganians.

That was part of Haveman's outline of progress made on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's health and wellness plan.

Officials warn half of the state's residents could be obese by 2030.

Thompson said obesity is causing tremendous problems for the healthcare system to handle. He said it's one of the underlying problems facing chronic illness and wellness and prevention and that it's a $200 billion cost in America and about a $3 billion cost here in Michigan.

"We feel it's necessary to pass the law so doctors are able to prescribe medicines, are able to do what's necessary to really treat the patient, whether it be for mental health, whether it be for obesity, whatever the case may be," he said.

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