Missouri eating disorder bill awaits Governor's approval - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Missouri eating disorder bill awaits Governor's approval

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

A measure that could extend the treatment of eating disorders is awaiting Gov. Jay Nixon's approval.

The legislation would require insurance companies to cover eating disorders by following medical guidelines.

The House passed the measure with a vote of 148-6, and the Senate passed it unanimously last month.

Specifically, this legislation would make it so insurance companies have to follow the American Psychiatric Associations Standards of Care guidelines.

Right now the Missouri mental health parity law already requires insurance companies to cover eating disorders.

However, this legislation would make it so treatment cannot be based solely on weight.

Utahna Hancock, a counselor at the Dale and Hancock Center, works with people who suffer from eating disorders.

She said this legislation is a step in the right direction because it could encourage insurance companies to cover follow up visits with patients.

Hancock said that is a big deal because the chances of relapse in people suffering from eating disorders is so high.

"The truth is, the easy part is overcoming the eating disorder," Hancock said. "When you're under  supervised care then that's easier, somebody is there helping you. But when you're on your own living you again and going back to same systems then there you are back again with the same problem to solve."

Recent research shows up to 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder whether it's anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. But only 1 in 10 of those actually receive treatment.

Of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate.

Governor Nixon has until next week to sign this legislation.

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