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Medicare Decision on Obesity Could Spur Fast Food Lawsuits

Legal observers say a decision announced July 15, 2004 by Medicare that treatments for obesity will now be covered could open the door to more...
July 28, 2004

Legal observers say a decision announced July 15, 2004 by Medicare that treatments for obesity will now be covered could open the door to more fast food lawsuits. The Health and Human Services Department (HHS), the department that runs Medicare, announced the federal health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled would omit language in its coverage manual that prohibits coverage for treating obesity. George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III said the government's action would help trial lawyers. Thirty-one percent of Medicare participants are overweight, and 18 percent are obese. Banzhaf said he expected obesity coverage to spread to Medicaid, the federal program for low-income families with children, and to private insurers.

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