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Kirkwood Legislator Fights for Those Suffering From Eating Disorders

Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) has filed legislation that would require insurance companies to provide complete treatment.

The following article was submitted by the Missouri Eating Disorder Association.

Eating Disorders are the most fatal of all mental illnesses, yet those suffering from this disease are routinely denied complete treatment and have limited available resources available to them.

Families, too, suffer greatly as they watch those they love struggle to recover.  Add to these factors, enormous stigma and secretiveness and you have a system that not only doesn’t help, but it actually perpetuates this disease.  The incidence of eating disorders grows every year, and today boys and women over 40 are the fastest growing populations.  Eating disorders are highly treatable, but treatment is purported to be expensive.  A cost-analysis by the Missouri Eating Disorders Association shows treatment is much more cost-effective than not providing treatment because of the extreme physical conditions that accompany this disease when it goes untreated, such as heart failure, kidney failure and osteoporosis.

For the past four years, has been leading the fight for those suffering from eating disorders.  Stream has filed legislation every year that would greatly help those who are suffering.  His legislation would require insurance companies provide complete treatment so that Missourians can obtain better access to quality treatment throughout the state.  He has sponsored bills that would result in increased education and awareness, as well as family support systems.   Representative Stream lost his daughter, Katie, to an eating disorder 21 years ago and knows first hand the suffering of those affected and their families.

Annie Seal, board member of the Missouri Eating Disorders Association and lead Missouri advocate, commends Representative Stream for his commitment to helping those in need.

“The Missouri Eating Disorders Council is an important first step in raising awareness and educating government about the issues surrounding this disease”  And “Getting the Missouri Eating Disorders Council approved in the budget was not easy.  Representative Stream’s commitment to helping those in need made the difference,” Seal said. 

Kirkwood has two residential facilities operated by McCallum Place, a leading eating disorders treatment center.  So while there are definite economic reasons why a Kirkwood representative would support eating disorders, Seal acknowledges “It takes courage in today’s political climate to fight for a disease people know very little about.  Representative Stream has been breaking down the myths and misinformation amongst his peers.  He has been the right person to get this done.”

Thanks in a large part to Representative Stream’s leadership, legislation for the Missouri Eating Disorders Council was voted into law in 2010 and was funded on June 22, 2012 when Governor Jay Nixon approved the 2013 budget. Included funding for the Missouri Eating Disorders Council.   This Council will be under the jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Mental Health and will allow the state to study the issues surrounding the disease.   It is the first time eating disorders will be officially studied by the state.

Interestingly, advocates for eating disorders are closely studying the results of the Autism Insurance Reform that was co-sponsored by Senator Eric Schmidt of Glendale-Kirkwood.  According to a February 1, 2012 report by the Department of Insurance the Autism Insurance Reform has increased the number of ABA therapists and is expected to have a minimal impact on health insurance premiums.   These results may pave the way for the much-needed eating disorders insurance reform efforts.  

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