At EDCI, we are devastated to hear the news that the UIHC EDO program will be discontinuing the inpatient treatment program. Although medical stabilization admissions, the partial hospitalization program and outpatient services will be remaining, it is a massive blow to Iowa’s treatment community to lose this level of care.
The UIHC inpatient program was the sole option in the state to receive inpatient treatment for eating disorders. As a result of the closing of this program, individuals in need of this level of care will either need to be referred out of state or may be unable to access a higher level of care at all.
This is especially concerning for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. Individuals on state-based Medicaid plans have historically been denied agreements for out of state inpatient or residential care. It is unknown at this time if these insurance plans will cooperate in allowing their members to seek care out of state. In addition, many out of state providers do not accept Medicaid. Some Iowans may ultimately be unable to access potentially lifesaving treatment. This is concerning as eating disorders have been found to have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders with one American dying from an eating disorder every 52 minutes (STRIPED: Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, 2020).
EDCI is committed to advocating for equitable access to eating disorder treatment. We have formally written to UIHC to address our concerns, requesting the reconsideration of their decision and to provide us with additional information regarding their decision-making process and future steps. We are hopeful that additional conversations will be possible to further explore the decision to close the program.
In addition to advocating for in-state eating disorder treatment resources, our long-term plan is to also increase our advocacy efforts to address the appalling denial of out of state coverage for higher levels of care. We also plan to discuss concerns and encourage treatment coverage with Iowa-based insurers, starting with Iowa Medicaid plans.
We have heard from several community members regarding their dismay and concern at the loss of this treatment option. We hear you and encourage everyone to make their voice heard. If you’d like to assist our efforts, volunteer with EDCI or voice your concern, please feel free to reach out to us!
Iowans are deserving of accessible and quality eating disorder treatment.
*STRIPED. Report: Economic Costs of Eating Disorders. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/report-economic-costs-of-eating-disorders/