Friday, January 25, 2013

Senator Harkin holds hearing on mental health after the Newtown shootings on Capitol Hill.

This is an important moment in history where the nation focuses on the important of addressing mental health through smart and prudent policies.

The EDC is particularly grateful for Senator Patty Murray's strong insistence that the final rule for mental health parity needs to be released no later than April this year!

Here are a few quotes we thought was worth highlighting:
"It is important we don't stigmatize mental health." Senator Franken

"Only 1 in 5 children with mental health issues get treated." Senator Franken

"It is absolutely vital that we detect earlier and intervene earlier with something we know is effective." Tom Insel, Director of NIMH

"You can't have mental health without mental health practitioners. . . I went into graduate school on an NIH grant when this 1963 bill was signed for mental health community centers . . . because of that I was able to go to graduate school and get a master's degree in social work . . . the consequences of well trained people and what they then produce in our society I know is important. Senator Mikulski

"I would agree that we need more practitioners." Pamela Hyde, Administrator, SAMHSA

"We have to make sure that mental health is available to all people regardless of their income all over this country." Senator Sanders

To read the testimony of witnesses see the below pdf files. You can also view the video at


Panel I

Ms. Pamela Hyde, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD
Download File

Dr. Thomas Insel, Director, National Institute of Mental Health at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Download File

Panel II

Michael Hogan Ph.D., Former Commissioner, New York State Office of Mental Health, and Chairman, President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Delmar, NY
Download File

Robert Vero, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer, Centerstone of Tennessee, Nashville, TN
Download File

George DelGrosso, M.A., Executive Director, Colorado Behavioral Health Council, Denver, CO
Download File

Larry Fricks, Senior Consultant, National Council for Behavioral Health, Cleveland, GA
Download File

Thursday, January 17, 2013

EDC applauds the President for addressing mental health through his commitment to finalizing the parity regulations and attention to essential health benefits.

Obama gun plan calls for long-awaited rules on mental health
By Sam Baker - 01/16/13 12:31 PM ET
From Healthwatch - The Hill's Healthcare Blog

President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence calls for long-awaited rules requiring insurance companies to cover mental health services.

Obama said his administration would finalize rules on mental health parity, the requiring of mental healthcare to be covered the same way as physical healthcare. The regulations have languished since 2008, and Senate Democrats had called on Obama to push the rules forward as part of his gun-control recommendations.

Obama also said his administration would be "issuing guidance making clear that the Affordable Care Act does not prevent doctors from talking to patients about gun safety," amid a host of other healthcare-related actions and recommendations.

The White House plan calls for bolstering access to mental health services in schools and encouraging teachers to intervene early when they believe a student needs counseling.

Obama also directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence, despite a congressional order that prohibits the agency from conducting any research that would "advocate or promote gun control."

Obama said that order should not be read as an all-out ban on gun research, and he called on Congress to provide $10 million in funding for the CDC to study gun violence and possible links to violent movies and video games.

Office of the Press Secretary

January 16, 2013

Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions
Today, the President is announcing that he and the Administration will:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Monday, January 14, 2013


EDC Spring Lobby Day:  Wednesday, April 17, 2013

EDC Fall Lobby Day:  Wednesday, September 18, 2013

*Registration will be open for the Spring Lobby Day in early February 2013.

About EDC National Lobby Days:
The EDC brings advocates together twice a year for our National Lobby Days as the most effective way to educate Members of Congress and push for important policy goals like the FREED Act. Join us for an EDC National Lobby Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC where your voice makes a difference in the lives of those affected by eating disorders. By addressing eating disorders at the Federal level, you have the opportunity to help everyone impacted by eating disorders. You will learn to tell your story and share your experience in a way that leaves a notable impact on Members of Congress and staff. We need YOU to be part of these efforts. Visit our website for more information:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New EDC survey of the Essential Health Benefits finds wide disparity in anticipated mental health service coverage between states.

The Eating Disorders Coalition survey of benchmark plans from all 50 states plus District of Columbia shows wide disparity in anticipated mental health and substance abuse service coverage between states, particularly as it relates to residential care and eating disorder care. This disparity is of great concern for people struggling with eating disorders and other mental health and substance abuse issues across the country.

By our review, 27 of the benchmark plans severely limit mental health services, with 9 specifically excluding residential care and a few exclusively limited eating disorder residential treatment. Many of these plans have day limits on mental health services and exclusions for residential services included in a list of completely unrelated items that are typically not included. In many cases, the states with limits on mental health do not have the same limits on Substance Abuse services; in some cases limits are extreme for both mental health and substance abuse.

Given that similar limits are not seen in medical services, it seems that this disparity, both on quantitative day limits and unequal exclusionary status should not be allowed under Mental Health Parity.

In contrast, our review indicates that 24 states have strong mental health coverage, without non-equitable service limits. Many specifically include residential treatment, a few highlight eating disorder treatment inclusion. The states of Maine and Vermont seem to have the strongest coverage for eating disorders, while numerous other states have strong coverage with no stated day limits and no exclusion for residential care.

With ½ of the states including equitable coverage for mental health and substance abuse services, there is strong evidence that plans can and do include equitable and inclusive treatment for mental health and substance abuse. There is a pressing need for the other ½ of the nation to provide for inclusive coverage of these illnesses.

As the nation moves forward with implementing the ACA state by state, it is imperative that attention be paid to equitable and adequate access to care for people suffering with mental health conditions, including eating disorders.

Source for the plans: