In the Eating Disorder Community, We Need a Task Force to Get Things Done

Posted By Rachel Teicher Brehm || 16-Jun-2016

In March 2016, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum creating a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. The goal of the Task Force is to ensure that Americans receive the coverage and treatment that they need.

In the eating disorder world, we simply cannot afford to sit around waiting for equality. Hoping for parity. Praying for access to life-saving treatment.

Despite the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, (a federal law that requires group health plans and health insurers to provide the same mental health/substance abuse benefits as they do for physical benefits) insurers are slow to implement newer parity provisions, and elusive in finding ways to deny claims for mental health treatment. "Not medically necessary," "Not sick enough," "Too chronic," "Weight restored, therefore you are healed," "Does not need this level of care," they explain as they hand out denial after denial.

Without access to eating disorder treatment, people are dangerously living. Or barely living. Or dying.

And so we need a Task Force to hold insurers responsible.

We need a Task Force to hold them accountable, we need a Task Force to push transparency, we need a Task Force to enforce mental health equality, we need a Task Force for unobstructed access to life-saving treatment, and we need a Task Force to get things done.

We need advocates, activists, believers, movers and shakers, lawmakers, sponsors, the White House, the President of the United States…and a Task Force. We need to be a little army of advocates, and we need to march together to one beat.

Essentially, we have one task at hand (mental health parity) and it is our duty to force it upon the mental health parity violators. It's sad and unfair, but for many, mental health parity does not come naturally. It has to be forced and enforced.

Mental health parity is not optional.

We can't just sit here.

Together we have to make things happen.

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The Task Force wants to hear from patients, families, consumer advocates, health care providers, insurers, and other stakeholders on their experience with mental health and substance use disorder parity requirements. Share your comments, experiences, and recommendations with the Task Force. Or, submit your comments by sending an email to parity@hhs.gov.

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