Update: House Bill 3227, requiring health insurance coverage of eating disorders, needs your support!

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting Texas HB 3227, the bill calling for eating disorders to be added to the list of serious mental illnesses requiring health insurance coverage in the state of Texas. 

UPDATE:

We need to convince the Calendars Committee to put the bill up for a vote and members of the House to vote "YES" when it gets to the floor.

However, the bill is now being held up in the Calendars Committee. If we are not successful at getting it out of the Calendars Committee this week, it is likely that the bill will not make it to the House floor.

Here is how you can help:

1. Contact Representative Coleman's office at 512-463-0524 and ask who or what is holding up HB 3227. Representative Coleman is a sponsor of HB 3227. Jordan Rux is his Policy Analyst. 

2. Contact every member of the Calendars Committee (view list of Committee members and contact information here; list also provided below). Let them know you support HB 3227, share why it is important to you (e.g., telling your story of struggle and survival, with focus on insurance barriers or how insurance coverage can or could have helped you/someone you know), ask who or what is holding the bill up in Calendars, and state that you want it released from Calendars so that the bill can be put up for a vote. (See the letter I wrote at the end of this blog for an example). If you cannot stop by in person, fax is preferable, followed by phone and then email. If faxing or emailing, please do not use a generalized form letter - write in your own words why the bill is important to you; personalization is most effective. Contacting members of the Committee representing your district has an even greater impact. Here is a list of the representatives followed by their district (click on name to be directed to contact information):

Please help make a difference and support HB 3227!

Please help make a difference and support HB 3227!

3. Join Kate Peoples on Thursday, May 2, 2013 for meetings with House Representatives/Staff. Contact Kate at Katepeeps@hotmail.com for more information. Learn more here. Now that we've made it through the Insurance Committee, it's important to make a personal and emotional impact on the House Representatives/Staff that have not heard our stories.  Telling your story of struggle and survival, especially including insurance barriers, is what we're aiming for. Last week, when HB 3227 supporters shared personal stories [for example, experiencing a never-ending cycle of hospitalizations due to lack of adequate treatment from the start and how this results in much higher medical bills (i.e., visits to the ER or psych hospitals), and that insurance companies dictate length of stay, which is never enough], had a real affect on the people we met with.  This will be a personal conversation, not a public testimony.  Speak from the heart. As we all know, everyone know's someone with an eating disorder, even if they don't know it! That includes the people we'll be speaking with on Thursday. Remember, you are the expert. Be confident and hold your head high!

4. Can't join Thursday?

  • Mail or fax a letter asking your Representative to please vote "YES" for HB 3227 and why it's so important that they do so.  We are asking that you mail/fax offices because many emails are simply ignored. They cannot ignore paper.  Go here to find your Representative (Texas State House Representative). See an example letter below.
  • The Speaker Of The House is ultimately responsible for setting bill priorities. We need to share with him how important it is that this bill gets a chance to be voted on by the House.  Please write/fax Joe Straus here asking him to put HB 3227 up for a vote. See an example letter below.

Thanks again to all who are working hard on getting this bill passed and making your voice heard.

"Whenever one person steps up and says, 'Wait a minute. This is wrong!' It helps other people do the same."  - Gloria Steinem

-Chelsea

Calendars Committee Example Letter (the letter I sent to the Calendars Committee Members):

Hello Representative (insert name here),

I am writing in support of HB 3227, the bill calling for eating disorders to be listed as serious mental illnesses in Texas, which would allow for insurance coverage for these complex, deadly conditions.  Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and lead to multiple chronic physical health complications; not treating them is not only costly, but puts lives at risk. Please consider releasing this bill from Calendars so that the bill can be put up for a vote.

(Provide why this bill is important to you, this is what I wrote): As a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in the state of Texas, I work with clients with eating disorders and I see the struggle clients and their families have when trying to find a way to pay for the comprehensive and necessary treatment they need. In my experience, it is common for insurance companies to deny coverage for eating disorder treatment that clients need in order to improve their condition. This leaves the client/family financially responsible for treatment - it can mean added stress or debt for the client/family; and for the client, it means not receiving the level of care that they need and this can cost them their life.

I appreciate your time and commitment to this important bill.

Sincerely,

Chelsea Fielder-Jenks

M.A., LPC Intern

Representative Example Letter (the letter I sent to my Representative):

Hello Representative (insert name here),

I am writing to draw your attention to HB 3227, the bill calling for eating disorders to be listed as serious mental illnesses in Texas, which would allow for insurance coverage for these complex, deadly conditions.  Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and lead to multiple chronic physical health complications; not treating them is not only costly, but puts lives at risk. I am asking you to please vote "yes" for 3227.

(Provide why this bill is important to you, this is what I wrote): As a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in the state of Texas, I work with clients with eating disorders and I see the struggle clients and their families have when trying to find a way to pay for the comprehensive and necessary treatment they need. In my experience, it is common for insurance companies to deny coverage for eating disorder treatment that clients need in order to improve their condition. This leaves the client/family financially responsible for treatment - it can mean added stress or debt for the client/family; and for the client, it means not receiving the level of care that they need and this can cost them their life.

I appreciate your time and commitment to this important bill. Please vote in support of 3227, your support could save money and lives!

Sincerely,

Chelsea Fielder-Jenks

M.A., LPC Intern

Speaker of the House Example Letter (the letter I sent to Speaker Straus):

Hello Speaker Straus,

I am writing to draw your attention to HB 3227, the bill calling for eating disorders to be listed as serious mental illnesses in Texas, which would allow for insurance coverage for these complex, deadly conditions.  Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and lead to multiple chronic physical health complications; not treating them is not only costly, but puts lives at risk. I am asking you to please put HB 3227 up for a vote.

(Provide why this bill is important to you, this is what I wrote): As a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in the state of Texas, I work with clients with eating disorders and I see the struggle clients and their families have when trying to find a way to pay for the comprehensive and necessary treatment they need. In my experience, it is common for insurance companies to deny coverage for eating disorder treatment that clients need in order to improve their condition. This leaves the client/family financially responsible for treatment - it can mean added stress or debt for the client/family; and for the client, it means not receiving the level of care that they need and this can cost them their life.

I appreciate your time and commitment to this important bill. Please put HB 3227 up for a vote, your support could save money and lives!

Sincerely,

Chelsea Fielder-Jenks

M.A., LPC Intern