Congress Passes Act Pushing For Better Treatment Of Eating Disorders
TULSA, Oklahoma - For the first time in history, Congress passed legislation that would make access to health care easier for those suffering from eating disorders.
The Laureate Clinic at St. Francis is one of the top programs in the country for treating eating disorders, and, one of the oldest.
The Anna Westin Act is a prevision of the 21st Century Cures Act that addresses eating disorders, which has advocates all over the country celebrating. The act is the first time Congress has recognized things like anorexia and bulimia. And, this is the first time Congress has told health care providers to treat these types of patients like everyone else.
We have to eat to stay alive, yet, for some, eating is much more complicated.
"Eating disorders for females between the ages of 13 and 24 is the leading cause of death,” said Dr. Scott Moseman. “These are sometimes the best and brightest young men and women that develop eating disorders and that takes them out during important times of their lives, so it has a huge impact on the families and on the lives of those affected."
Moseman is the medical director of the eating disorder program at Laureate. He's been treating eating disorders in Tulsa for 15 years and said medical professionals constantly have to justify treatment to insurance companies.
"That's difficult in knowing that I work for a non-for-profit catholic institution who are trying to help people, and every day I spend almost as much time with patients advocating for care and making sure patients get the care they need," he said.
The new legislation hopes to change that, advocating for fair and proper treatment of eating disorders - meaning less red tape for doctors and better coverage from health care providers, especially with the most serious cases.
Moseman said, "Treatment in certain cases can sometimes last three to six months or to as much as eight to 10 years."
He said eating disorders aren't always easy to spot, especially in a world that admires unrealistic bodies.
And the consequences can be deadly - leading to suicide, heart attacks, kidney failure, liver failure, malnutrition and starvation.
But, with proper care, patients can recover - something Moseman said he's always fought for.
"I have patients having kids. I have patients in graduate school that are physicians, patients that are doing research into eating disorders; I have patients that are living productive lives, so it is well worth it," he said.
Moseman said it's still early to see just how much will change because of the legislation, but said, after 20 years, it's a step in the right direction.