Madden to introduce bill for full bariatric health insurance coverage

HARRISBURG, May 5 – State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, plans to introduce legislation that would ensure health insurance coverage for people who need bariatric surgery for health reasons.

Bariatric surgery on the stomach or intestines is designed to help patients with extreme obesity lose weight.

Madden said bariatric surgery is a procedure of last resort for people, who, despite adopting medically recommended weight-loss programs, are unable to improve their body mass index.

“According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, nearly 70 to 80% of patients suffering from high blood pressure no longer require their medications and maintain normal blood pressure six months post operation,” Madden said. “Despite these statistics, insurers deny approximately 25% of patients considering the procedure three times before giving approval, and during that time patients may experience worsening health and out-of-pocket costs.”

In addition, Madden said the report indicates 90% of patients with Type 2 diabetes enjoy reduction or complete freedom from all medications after the surgery, and blood sugar levels are maintained at normal values. She said patients with heartburn, high cholesterol, lower back pain and stress incontinence often see relief of all symptoms within a few days to weeks after surgery.

“My legislation would automatically open pathways to better health for Pennsylvanians who face these challenges by requiring commercial and public insurers to cover bariatric surgery and aftercare, “Madden said.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, all clinical trials conducted on most common bariatric surgery procedures by the National Institutes of Health have shown significant weight reduction. In addition, studies show that following surgery, most patients lose weight rapidly and continue to do so 18 to 24 months after the procedure and can maintain 50% to 60% loss of excess weight 10-14 years post-operation.

Madden said she is seeking House co-sponsors for her proposed bill.