Newswise — LaGrange, IL (July 17, 2014) -- Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed legislation (HB 4688) repealing Michigan’s nutrition and dietetics licensing law, which had prohibited a broad range of nutrition practitioners from providing nutrition counseling. With his action, Michigan becomes the first state in the nation to roll back a law that made it illegal for essentially all nutrition professionals other than Registered Dietitians®—no matter how highly qualified—to practice individualized nutrition counseling.

Medicare, Medicaid Ruling Ensures Level Playing Field Between Nutrition Professionals and Registered Dietitians® in HospitalsMichigan’s repeal follows a ruling by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that went into effect July 11 that ensures a level playing field between nutrition professionals and Registered Dietitians in hospitals. It states that: “all patient diets, including therapeutic diets, must be ordered by a practitioner responsible for the care of the patient, or by a qualified dietitian or qualified nutrition professional as authorized by the medical staff and in accordance with State law.” 

In the ruling, CMS rejected the request that Registered Dietitians be the sole nutrition practitioners eligible to order therapeutic diets, and instead adopted the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists’ (BCNS) formal recommendation that nutrition professionals obtain the same eligibility as Registered Dietitians®.

Wins for Consumers and their Health“Both the Michigan repeal and the CMS federal ruling have vast implications for the nutrition profession,” said BCNS President Sidney Stohs, PhD, CNS, FACN, ATS. “They embrace the right of a variety of highly qualified nutrition professionals—such as Certified Nutrition Specialists®—to practice in hospitals and other settings, and rebuff the assertion that only one group has the expertise and the singular right to provide medical nutrition therapy.”

“Most importantly,” said Dr. Stohs, “the federal ruling and the Michigan repeal are a victory for patients. They will give hospitals and the public flexibility in determining which type of nutrition provider best meets their needs.”The repeal of the Michigan law is the latest significant sign that policy makers are recognizing the growing diversity of the nutrition profession and the benefit to consumer health and job growth by broadening, rather than narrowing, access to nutrition services.

The Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS) grants the Certified Nutrition Specialist® (CNS®) credential. Certified Nutrition Specialists are advanced nutrition professionals who apply clinical nutrition science to human health and disease. The CNS certification is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and is featured in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Definition of the Nutritionist Profession. The BCNS’ Center for Nutrition Advocacy is the leading advocate ensuring public access to a range of nutrition professionals. Its mission is to advance nutrition professionals’ pivotal role in healthcare through forward-thinking public and private policy. ***