Press Release - Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz
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Brooklyn, NY 11220
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The Assembly

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Ortiz Welcomes Funding for Eating Disorders Centers
His Law Provides $500,000 Grants for Three Regional Programs Around the State

(Albany, NY) - Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, (Brooklyn), Chair of the Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy who sponsored the first eating disorders comprehensive treatment law in the U.S. was pleased that three new eating-disorder centers around New York will provide the state’s first comprehensive treatment for disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating to residents from Long Island to Buffalo.

Albany Medical Center will join with Four Winds Saratoga and Bellevue Woman’s Hospital in Niskayuna to establish a center in the northeastern region of the state. Park Ridge Hospital in Rochester and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City will also establish eating-disorder centers in coordination with nearby facilities. Each center will receive $500,000 under the law sponsored by Assemblyman Ortiz which also requires insurers to cover care provided at the Centers. Ortiz received an award earlier this year at the 1st Annual New York State Conference on Eating Disorders

"For the last few years I have become linked with the fight against obesity. Although obesity is rapidly becoming our number one health menace, we cannot ignore the danger that our society’s emphasis on losing weight can contribute to dangerous eating disorders. This problem seems to be growing and not just among wealthy, suburban teenage girls but among men, older women, Hispanics, and other inner-city populations. Unfortunately, New York State did not have the type of care available that is needed to effectively address this deadly problem and save lives. Families are often forced to travel out-of-state to find the comprehensive care needed. Even when care is available families cannot afford it and insurance coverage is inadequate. That is why we needed this law," said Ortiz.

An estimated 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 women and girls and 1,000,000 men and boys in the United States suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, as well as eating disorders that are not otherwise defined. Eating disorders can be fatal; anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. A young woman with anorexia is 12 times more likely to die than other women her age. Many victims and families hide the disorder and quietly suffer the consequences. These conditions are only recently getting the attention they need.

The new State program will fund the development of comprehensive care centers or networks across the State that would provide a system of care providing services and treatments from the initial screening and in-patient residential care through follow-up care and outpatient counseling. It would also require insurers to cover treatments provided by comprehensive care programs. Currently many families are forced to use out-of-state comprehensive programs that are expensive and may not be covered by insurance companies, especially HMOs that are regional. These expenses are bankrupting hard-working families. Without successful treatment, the victim of an eating disorder can end up in an expensive hospital stay where insurers will pay for care that may have been prevented.

Ortiz added, "It is not humane or logical for us to force an individual and family to travel out-of-state to receive life-saving care and ruin themselves financially or end up in a life-threatening situation that requires very expensive and prolonged hospital stays. If we can create model programs around the State it will be better for those suffering from these conditions, their families and even their health insurers. We can save lives and money."