Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

May 16, 2023

SEN. ANWAR JOINS SENATE PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION EXPANDING ACCESS TO SURGICAL TREATMENT FOR OBESITY

Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) joined the Senate’s passage of legislation requiring coverage of bariatric surgery and medical assistance and services related to treatment of obesity through Medicaid and HUSKY B under certain circumstances. Such services in addition to bariatric surgery, which makes changes to the digestive system to help patients with obesity lose weight, include FDA-approved prescription drugs for outpatient treatment of obesity and nutritional counseling from a registered dietitian-nutritionist.

The bill is intended to increase access to treatment for severe obesity, which can have significant negative impacts on an individual’s health over time. Sen. Anwar helped introduce the legislation in previous legislative sessions and is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“The health and medical impacts of obesity can be negatively impactful to individual and public health. Any way we can make access to new and improved treatments easier for constituents will have strong benefits in reducing those impacts at large,” said Sen. Anwar. “Medical and societal circumstances can cause anyone to gain weight – and we should be cognizant of that in expanding access to treatment and care. I’m hopeful to see this bill pass this year and provide aid to those in need.”

Senate Bill 977, “An Act Concerning Medical Assistance For Surgery and Medical Services Related To Treatment of Obesity,” would require access to medical services to beneficiaries through Medicare and Medicaid with body mass indexes over 35 and bariatric surgery and related services for beneficiaries with severe obesity. The bill defines severe obesity as a person having a body-mass-index over 35 with a comorbid disease or condition or a body-mass-index over 40. Under current regulations, the Department of Social Services covers surgical services needed to treat morbid obesity causing or aggravating another medical illness.

The bill received strong support in public testimony from health professionals including Christine Finck, surgeon-in-chief at Connecticut Children’s, and Nathan Wood, instructor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine. Finck testified that in her work she has seen the consequences of obesity and its impacts on children that could be cured by surgical weight loss, citing Connecticut Children’s successful administration of bariatric surgery for young patients. Wood testified that his patients have experienced medical conditions related to obesity and could not lose weight, with surgery and medication being effective; he noted his patients with Medicaid are unable to get access to such needed care.

“Forty-two percent of Americans have obesity… [which] is a risk factor for numerous other health conditions,” Wood testified. “When you treat obesity, you prevent these conditions.”

The bill previously passed the Human Services Committee by a 20-2 tally in March and the Appropriations Committee in April by a 44-5 vote. It now heads to the House for further consideration.