WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is an original co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation introduced this week that would extend insurance coverage of foods necessary for the safe and effective management of digestive and inherited metabolic disorders.  Phenylketonuria (PKU) is one example of a rare inherited metabolic disorder. Untreated, PKU can result in severe intellectual disability or even death. Because of the success of a newborn screening program (reauthorized in December 2014 by unanimous consent in the Senate), PKU can be identified early, and treatment with special foods and medication can lead to a healthy life. 

“Patients who have cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease or other inherited disorders have special nutritional needs,” Grassley said.  “Without specialized foods, these patients can get really sick, even risking death.  They might suffer from stunted growth and other problems.  Unfortunately, insurance coverage doesn’t always recognize this dire situation.  Our bill fixes the inequity and makes clear that medical nutrition is as important to certain patients as prescription drugs or other medical treatment.”

The Medical Nutrition Equity Act (S. 1194) would ensure that public and private insurance cover medical nutrition needs to prevent severe disabilities and death, allowing children and adults with digestive and inherited metabolic disorders to maintain their health.  Medicaid, Medicare, other publicly run programs and private insurance would need to cover medically necessary foods if prescribed by the patient’s provider.   

A summary of the bill is available here.