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Texas Rep. Rose Offers Eating Disorders Legislation

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and State Rep. Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) took that opportunity today to announce his filing of HB 1169, which outlines health insurance coverage Texas companies must offer to provide for the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders.

At a press conference today, Vincent Salas of the National Eating Disorders Association said the weeklong observance is the largest outreach effort of the organization, aimed at educating the public regarding the seriousness of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. He said the group's efforts also will include attempts to reduce the stigma associated with eating disorders and to steer those who suffer from the disorders toward treatment.

Solis said each person who is in a "personal battle" with an eating disorder is at a different stage of the disorder and a different stage of recovery. His organization, he said, seeks to educate the public regarding these disorders and provide quality treatment for sufferers and their loved ones. The observation of a weeklong effort is only the first step, he said, but the "big leap" is in ensuring action is taken.

HB 1669, he said, offers health care to many Texans who suffer from eating disorders.

Dr. Edward Tyson said anorexia and bulimia are a "growing concern" and added that both are "complex and serious" illnesses. Not only are the conditions themselves serious, he said, but they also can lead to other problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, or drug and alcohol dependence.

Rose introduced 16-year-old Sarah Whitworth of Buda, who suffers from an eating disorder. He said her parents' insurance did not cover the disorder and they were forced to spend $70,000 of their retirement savings to help save their daughter's life. He said they still do not know how much, or when, they will be reimbursed by their insurance carrier.

That costs both patients and taxpayers in the long run, said Rose, noting that early detection can help decrease the cost of providing care. He said his legislation will ensure that young people can count on their health insurance when they need it to treat the mental and physical aspects of their disorder.

Sarah said she denied her eating disorder for a long time and did not want help but eventually watched her parents liquidate their retirement funds "to help me with my battle." She said her eating disorder was "so out of control" and said that sometimes people think the victims choose to engage in the behaviors that they do.

She said many who suffer from the disorders were not as lucky as she was. "Anorexia and bulimia are much too prevalent to be overlooked in society," she said.