In this series, Eating Disorder Hope Founder, Jacquelyn Ekern, interviews Chase Banister of the Eating Disorders Coalition to discuss the work they have been doing.
For Part 3 of this 4-part series, Chase Banister continues to share the incredible work that the Eating Disorders Coalition is doing on virtual Capitol Hill this year.
The Bills of Eating Disorder Advocacy Day 2020
CB: A new report from Boston Children Harvard and the Academy for Eating Disorders, we have learned that we were undercounting eating disorder illness as well as underestimating lethality. Six months ago, we could say that one person dies every 62 minutes from an eating disorder, a harrowing thought on its own.
Now, we have to redact that and say that one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder illness every 52 minutes. This is not a good trend, so we need to be talking about it.
It is for this reason that we are advocating for the Nutrition CARE Act, with CARE being an acronym for Counseling Aiding Recovery from an Eating Disorder. Representative Judy Chu from California, Jackie Walorski, a Republican from Indiana, are proponents.
On the Senate side, we have Senator Hassan from New Hampshire and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski that have signed on already. It is hopeful to have a Republican and Democrat from both chambers agreeing on this bill.
Additionally, we have at least 35 bipartisan co-sponsors, and more are likely to come because we usually get a big uptick after Advocacy Day. Ultimately, we are not asking for more than what folks with diabetes or end-stage renal disease get.
We want individuals struggling with an eating disorder to be able to access that care. It makes not only financial sense but, more importantly, it makes sense to care for these very vulnerable populations.
We chose Medicare because that is what commercial plans and Affordable Care Act plans look to as a benchmark for how they are going to create their policies and what they will cover or not cover.
What we are doing is trying to set a standard so that one day, hopefully not so far into the future, we will be able to get commercial payers and employer-sponsored plans to follow the standard of Medicare.
It is also important to consider in our current times’ telehealth coverage. Some 70 percent of folks allow for telehealth coverage under emergency circumstances, but there are still some 30 percent out there whose insurers haven’t budged on telehealth coverage.
This forces folks to choose between their physical and mental health care. We are working on a couple of bills to make sure that folks can get access to telehealth services and that, at least for the immediate and future, this is made as universal as possible.
House Care at Home Act
There is also the House Care at Home Act that would require employer-based plans and Affordable Care Act plans to cover, during this public health emergency, services that would normally be provided in-person at the same rate to be covered over telehealth. This bill is in the House currently.
It is a little different in the Senate, as the Senate Bill is the Tele-Mental-Health Improvement Act. This bill doesn’t cover the Affordable Care Act plan but does focus on those commercial plans that almost 60 percent of America depends upon.
This bill says that payers can’t put up barriers to care and require Health and Human Services to report on telehealth policy practices. This bill is led by Kim Schreier of Washington in the House and Phil Rowe of Tennessee in the Senate.
Those are our two major “asks” this year, to have medical nutrition therapy covered for folks on Medicare and, two, to make sure that folks are able to get access to different treatment and levels of care as safely as possible from their homes and have that covered at a rate that is acceptable.
Virtual interview with Chase Banister of the Eating Disorders Coalition conducted by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, – Founder & President of Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope on October 28, 2020.
About the Transcriber:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published December 31, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on December 31, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC