Patient Access

Nutritional therapies are not conventional food but medically necessary nutrition for those that cannot eat or digest conventional foods.

According to the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) and the National Inpatient Sample Database, each year more than 250,000 people rely on enteral nutrition therapy through tube feedings,¹ and thousands more utilize other nutrition support products. Maintaining access to these products is vital to promote optimal health outcomes and decrease healthcare costs.

HNC believes all patients have the right to receive high quality health and nutrition care. As a result, HNC members continue to research, innovate, and develop new nutrition support therapies as nutrition science evolves, and as practitioners respond to meet changing patient needs.

Working to Maintain & Increase Patient Access

HNC strives to maintain and increase patient access to specialized nutrition support therapies through education and collaboration with government agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), coalitions; professional societies, patient advocacy groups, and other organizations.

In the U.S., every decision to cover nutrition via health plan benefits is made on an individual, case-by-case basis. There can often be patient access challenges to nutrition support therapies, especially because careful documentation of medical necessity is required as frequently as every 30 days, which is not always readily available.

In addition to the complexities of insurance coverage and reimbursement, there is a consistent shortage of elements such as amino acids, vitamins, and electrolytes (including potassium, calcium salts, and zinc) to make certain types of parenteral nutrition therapies. One reason for the shortage is the limited number of companies making these products because of the cost of manufacturing and bringing products to the market.

HNC members continue to work on increasing patient access to specialized nutrition support therapies. HNC continues to work towards systematic changes that will foster innovation, utilize new science and discoveries, ultimately leading to higher quality healthcare, better patient outcomes, and improvements in overall patient health.

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    1. Boullata, Joseph; Amy Long Carrera, Lillian Harvey, Arlene Escuro, Lauren Hudson, Andre Mays, Carol McGinnis, Jacqueline Wessel, Sarita Bajpai, Mara Lee Beebe, Tamara Kinn, Mark Klang, Linda Lord, Karen Martin, Cecelia Pompeii-Wolfe, Jackie Sullivan, Abby Wood, Ainsley Malone, and Peggi Guenter. ASPEN Safe Practices for Enteral Nutrition Therapy. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 2017; 41(1): 15-103.