Georgia Revokes Weight Loss Surgery Benefit

Georgia Revokes Weight Loss Surgery Benefit, Doctors of Weight Loss Experts Urge Reconsideration

Doctors of Weight Loss physicians are encouraging Georgia legislators to reconsider their decision to stop covering weight loss surgery. As of January 1, 2012, state employees and others covered by Georgia’s state insurance, will no longer have coverage for bariatric surgery. The decision was made that it is too expensive to cover the weight loss surgery procedures.

Dr. Jaime Ponce, President-Elect of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), Chairman of the ASMBS Insurance Committee, and Doctors of Weight Loss expert, is working with other physicians and national associations to educate the legislators on the financial benefits of covering weight loss surgery. “Bariatric surgery is a cost effective treatment for morbid obesity and the comorbidities associated with it,” Dr. Ponce says. “There is documented evidence showing this: An analysis of a private payer database showed that cost savings associated with bariatric surgery began accruing as early as 3 months after surgery, and downstream savings were estimated to offset the initial costs in 2 to 4 years.” ASMBS and the Obesity Action Council are working to find ways to educate and work with Georgia on finding a solution.

Georgia would join Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania as the only states to not cover bariatric surgery. Physicians are hoping Georgia will look at Missouri’s experience instead. Missouri recently began coverage of bariatric surgery again, because they saw the cost savings associated with the procedures.

Dr. John Morton, Director of Bariatric Surgery & Surgical Quality at Stanford School of Medicine, and Chairman of the ASMBS Access to Care Committee is also advocating for Georgia’s state employees with other ASMBS leaders and the Obesity Action Council. Dr Morton says, “While we recognize the current financial difficulties, the pending recommendation to cut bariatric surgery benefits to GA state employees needs to be withdrawn. Bariatric surgery is both life-saving and cost-effective and Georgia state employees should have the same benefits as other employees. Bariatric surgery is safe and effective. With less diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea, bariatric surgery will save the state money. Both ASMBS and OAC welcome the opportunity to work with Georgia leaders to find a solution and provide critical therapy to patients in need.”

Recent CNN coverage of this issue featured a retired Georgia teacher who is now unable to get weight loss surgery, and a legal correspondant from CNN who had the surgery, and is urging that both the physical and mental benefits be considered.

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