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Should Nutrition Counseling and Services Be an Essential Health Benefit?

Hager, Mary H. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e3182609d23
Nutrition and Food Policy

Nutrition counseling and related services need to be included in health plans, both private and public. Already a limited number of private insurers and state Medicaid plans cover these services. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, contains many provisions that potentially could expand access to nutrition counseling. One provision directs the federal government to define an Essential Health Benefits package for all citizens. The Federal Government delegated this responsibility to the states, consistent with the philosophy that states best know the unique medical needs of their citizens. Registered dietitians must be engaged with key stakeholders to improve the odds nutrition counseling services will be considered and included in their state’s Essential Health Benefits package.

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Mary H. Hager, PhD, previously worked as the Director of Regulatory Affairs at the American Dietetic Association and served as interim vice president for their government affairs office in Washington, DC. She also was a professor of Foods and Nutrition at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey, where she was also founding Associate Dean of the College’s Graduate Programs. She currently is a full-time alien resident in Tokyo, Japan. She earned her bachelor’s degree (with distinction) at the University of Delaware and completed a dietetic internship at the University of Michigan Hospital and her MS and PhD degrees in nutrition with concentrations in endocrinology and physiological chemistry at the University of California, Davis.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Mary H. Hager, PhD, Hager & Associates, 88 East Main St, St 134, Mendham, NJ 07945 (

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.