Newswise — As a global professional association committed to leadership in eating disorders research, education, treatment and prevention, the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) supports the introduction of the Nutrition Counseling Aiding Recovery for Eating Disorders (CARE) Act (HR 3711) that was recently introduced in the U.S. Congress. The Nutrition CARE Act will enable specialist nutrition intervention, an essential component of eating disorder treatment, to be covered by Medicare, which has significant implications for the prognosis of eating disorders.
Eating disorders are associated with significant morbidity and elevated rates of mortality. Evidence-based specialist treatment for eating disorders involves a multidisciplinary approach including psychology, nutrition, psychiatry, and medicine. Each of these has a crucial role in managing eating disorder thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as well as monitoring the physical health of those affected by eating disorders. Currently, Medicare covers all disciplines of eating disorder treatment (e.g. psychological, medical, psychiatric), with the exception of medical nutrition therapy (MNT). Without MNT, patients with eating disorders do not receive essential specialist nutrition intervention, including dietary modification and patient education, which are crucial across the course of the assessment, treatment, and aftercare of patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders. Moreover, without comprehensive treatment (including MNT), eating disorder patients covered by Medicare do not have access to all of the necessary components of gold-standard treatment. This limits the ability of patients with eating disorders to achieve a full recovery and increases the risk of medical complications, emergency visits, and severity of illness requiring expensive inpatient treatment and loss of life.
The Nutrition CARE Act will provide outpatient eating disorder MNT at parity with other illnesses already covered by Medicare (including diabetes and renal disease). This will include a minimum of 13 hours of coverage for the first year of treatment (1 x 60 minute initial assessment and 24 thirty-minute sessions thereafter) and 4 hours of coverage in subsequent years (8 thirty-minute sessions; and extra hours if needed). The Nutrition CARE Act will enable the essential component of specialist nutrition intervention to be covered under Medicare and therefore enable access to comprehensive treatment for eating disorders. Ultimately, this will increase the likelihood of recovery and prevent the progression of eating disorders into severe, life-threatening conditions. Given the need for MNT in eating disorder treatment and the possible consequences of its current exclusion, the AED is in full support of the legislation.
The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) is an international professional association committed to the leadership in eating disorders research, education, treatment, and prevention. The goal of the AED is to provide global access to knowledge, research, and best treatment practice for eating disorders. For additional information, please contact Elissa Myers at (703) 626-9087 and visit the AED website at www.aedweb.org.