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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 23, 2015 01:09 PM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Access to Treatment for Eating Disorders
In the near future I plan to re-introduce legislation aimed at improving access to effective care for thousands of Pennsylvanians who suffer from eating disorders.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 American women struggle with a form of eating disorder, including but not limited to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. Victims are often consumed by their disorder. Without treatment, up to 15% of individuals with eating disorders will die or suffer from long-term chronic illness.

Too many victims do not receive the treatment they require. Often, insurance companies only cover treatment that focuses on raising patients to a minimally adequate weight, and does not tackle the underlying psychological issues that cause the disorder. Without addressing these causal and maintaining factors, most patients will quickly lose weight and relapse.

Effective treatment takes time and consistency. Many patients need residential care and support to interrupt and eliminate symptomatic behaviors. These changes are often difficult to make outside of 24 hour per day support treatment and structure. This is why non-hospital, residential treatment centers have had such widespread acknowledged success, and are particularly successful when patients can step down from residential care to other structured outpatient programs such as partial/day hospitals or intensive outpatient programs. However, because few insurance plans in Pennsylvania cover such programs and facilities, Pennsylvanians are denied access to the most effective and efficient treatment available.

My bill requires that Pennsylvania’s insurers cover effective non-hospital, inpatient care for treating eating disorders and the underlying issues that cause them.

If you have questions about this legislation, please contact my Legislative Director, Jon Tew at jtew@pasenate.com or 610-768-4200.

Introduced as SB548