WASHINGTON, DC — This week, during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA), John Katko (R-NY) and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) introduced the Supporting Eating Disorders Recovery through Vital Expansion (SERVE) Act. If passed, the bill would ensure TRICARE, the military’s health insurance program, provides members of the military and their families with comprehensive treatment for eating disorders.
“Service members and their families deserve the best possible health care, and it’s up to Congress to make that happen,” Rep. Moulton said. “It is hard to talk about eating disorders and mental health, and especially hard within the military community. We hope leadership from Congress on the SERVE Act starts a broader conversation that helps people seek and receive help.”
“In recognition of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I’m partnering with Congressman Seth Moulton and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar to introduce the SERVE Act,” Rep. Katko said. “According to a recent study published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, at least 28.8 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. These disorders affect individuals from all backgrounds. But for service members and their families, some are not eligible to receive higher level eating disorders care under TRICARE due to their age. Our bipartisan bill extends the age limit for beneficiaries to the Medicare eligibility age for TRICARE coverage of eating disorders care, ensuring those who served our nation and their families have access to the support they deserve.”
“Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect over 28 million Americans over the course of their lifetime and studies indicate that servicemembers and their families have higher rates of eating disorders than the civilian population,” Rep. Escobar said. “This National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I am proud to partner with Congressmen Moulton and Katko to introduce the SERVE Act and increase identification and access for lifesaving treatment under TRICARE for our servicemembers and their families.”
“The EDC is spirited by the reintroduction of the SERVE Act today in the House of Representatives, and deeply thankful to Congressman Moulton for his leadership on this much needed legislation,” Eating Disorders Coalition Board President Chase Bannister said. “The SERVE Act would expand access to eating disorders care for the family members of servicemembers and take steps to improve the overall quality of eating disorders care in the military. The EDC looks forward to rallying its advocacy base and doing everything it can to get this important piece of legislation signed into law.”
Service members and their families experience higher rates of eating disorders than the civilian population. There are also strong links between post-traumatic stress, military sexual trauma, and eating disorders.
Eating disorders affect more than 28 million Americans during their lifetimes and have some of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, due to the physical risks they create and their association with suicide.
Specifically, the Supporting Eating Disorders Recovery Through Vital Expansion (SERVE) Act would:
- Clarify that under TRICARE, eating disorders treatment shall be provided to beneficiaries without age limitations when medically necessary.
- Require the Secretary of Defense to take steps to identify, treat, and rehabilitate service members affected by eating disorders.
- Direct the Department of Defense to establish clinical practice guidelines on eating disorder treatment.
The SERVE Act includes 20 additional original cosponsors, including Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike Levin (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Judy Chu (D-CA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Cynthia Axne (D-IA), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), David Price (D-NC), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Bill Foster (D-IL), Bill Keating (D-MA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced a companion bill in the Senate earlier this month.
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