Every year, thousands of adults and children in the U.S. are diagnosed with digestive and metabolic disorders. They often need access to medical foods. The Medical Nutrition Equity Act of 2021 (S.2013/H.R.3783 or MNEA) is a bill that would require public and private insurance to cover medical foods, vitamins, and individual amino acids.
Digestive disorders covered by Medical Nutrition Equity Act of 2021 include:
- Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)
- Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES)
- IgE mediated food allergies
(It does not include foods marketed as allergy free or gluten free for the management of food allergies or celiac disease.)
Medical foods are nutrition products (which often include elemental formulas like Neocate® or EleCare®) that are made to manage a disease or condition. They are prescribed and used under medical supervision. They are not the same as foods recommended by a doctor as part of a diet to manage symptoms. These products are sometimes needed to give complete or added nutrition. Children need proper nutrition for growth, mental development, and immune system development.
If your child needs medical foods, you usually order them through a pharmacy or durable medical equipment (DME) provider. They can cost four to five times more than common foods you buy in a grocery store. Even though many states require some coverage of medical foods, it is different in each state. And these rules may not apply to private insurance.
For example, some insurance companies only cover medical foods that are given through feeding tubes, even if the child or adult can eat the food by mouth.
Food insecurity has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of medical foods is a major burden on individuals and families facing financial challenges.
You can read more about this important bill at NutritionEquity.org. You can also read stories from people with these conditions or even share your own.
Help us expand coverage of medical foods by acting now! If passed, this bill will help ease the financial and emotional burden for people and families managing digestive and metabolic disorders.