May 14, 2012

Nutrition Legislation

As part of my outpatient dietetic experience where we counsel patients one-on-one for hour-long appointments I have several additional assignments.  Recently I presented current legislative topics to fellow dietitians in an effort to keep us all abreast of current topics that concern our profession.  However, I believe that this legislation affects all Americans, not just those of us in healthcare.  Here is a sample of what I presented on last week at the hospital:
Senate Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill

On April 26, the Senate Agriculture committee passed its version of the *Farm Bill by a 12:4 vote which could save $24.7 billion over 10 years, partially by making changes to commodity and/or nutrition titles (including $395 million in new program investments).  The downside is that it would be paid for by cutting $4.9 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over 10 years. The committee has proposed some changes to the existing program including: changing SNAP retailer requirements and reforming SNAP eligibility (e.g. ending SNAP eligibility for lottery winners). The bill does include increased funding for Community Food Projects, Farmers Market Promotion programs and new incentives for SNAP participants who purchase local fruits and vegetables. Both the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable and SNAP-Ed programs would be reauthorized without cuts through 2017, which affects dietitians who are actively involved in the “Ed” part of this nutrition education.  The next step is a full vote in the Senate which could happen in the next couple of weeks.

(FYI) *The farm bill is the agriculture/food bill that Congress passes every five years that deals with agriculture and other laws and policy for commodity programs, trade, conservation, food and nutrition programs and food safety. The current bill, called the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, replaced the previous bill which expired September 2007.

Prevention Fund Targeted

The U.S. House of Representatives has now targeted the Prevention Fund (provides communities around the country with money to support prevention efforts like childhood obesity prevention and tobacco cessation) to create $18 billion in savings next year to meet requirements of the new 2013 budget resolution. House leadership is requesting savings be created through "health programs" which include elimination of the Prevention Fund and directly affects those of us in health-care involved in prevention education and programing. The House voted to eliminate the Fund to help pay for the lower budget level and/or using the Fund to help pay for extending current interest rates for student loans.  This is only a preliminary bill which would have to move to a full committee vote, full House vote and then on to the Senate in order to become law.

No comments:

Post a Comment