July 6, 2015

Missouri bill to better cover eating disorder treatment becomes law

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has signed into law a bill to require insurance companies to consider the mental health needs, and not just the weight, of individuals with eating disorders.

Senator David Pearce

Senator David Pearce

Missouri law already requires that insurance companies cover treatment for mental health issues, and that includes eating disorders, but patients have had claims denied due to a lack of specific guidelines.

“What we’re saying is basically the insurance companies just have to abide by the current laws that are out there,” said Senate sponsor, David Pearce (R-Warrensburg).

Eating disorders are life-threatening and can require long periods of treatment to overcome. Pearce says unfortunately, some people have gone without coverage for some of the help they need.

“The patient going through eating disorders would be in a hospital or a residential treatment facility, and once they reach a certain, ideal weight then they were dismissed, or perhaps maybe their organs had started functioning at a certain level, then they were dismissed,” said Pearce.

Pearce says without mental health treatment, patients can relapse.

“We have seen patients who have declined, and some who have even died,” he said.

“What this does, it basically says they will be treated on the mental side. It also says these patients will receive treatment that’s recommended by the American Psychiatric Association, which does include almost all aspects of eating disorders,” Pearce told Missourinet.

In a statement, Governor Nixon said, “Like many mental health problems, a person suffering from an eating disorder may have no outward signs of their struggle. By requiring insurance companies to consider the comprehensive health needs of these individuals, and not just their weight, we can help Missourians struggling with these disorders receive the care they need to recover.”

Nixon added, “I want to thank Senator Pearce and Representative [Keith] Frederick for their work to bring this issue to the forefront and get this lifesaving legislation to my desk.”

Pearce says he got involved with the issue because of family in his hometown, Warrensburg, who had a daughter that died due to an eating disorder.

The law will affect policies bought, renewed, delivered or issued for delivery on or after January 1.


Missouri House panel hears testimony on move to statewide managed care

A house committee is laying the ground work to move the state’s Medicaid recipients to privatized care. Supporters and opponents are sharing what they believe it will mean for Missouri.

Dr. Chuck Hollister with the Missouri Psychological Association says he’s concerned the state will lose more Medicaid providers.

Representative Chris Kelly (tan jacket) asks a question of Budget Director Linda Luebbering during a hearing.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

(photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“Your Medicaid providers haven’t received an increase in reimbursement in over 25 years,” said Hollister. “There is no money left for managed care to earn a living on. When you talk about managing care, there’s nothing to manage.”

Mark Bradford with the Ozark Psychological Association says there needs to be a bigger network of providers and they need to be paid in a timely manner.

“In the managed care network, if you ask them ‘will you do work for them?’ a lot of times those providers will balk and stall because they don’t want low pay and slow pay.”

Supporters argue there are already enough Medicaid providers.

Managed care is only used throughout central Missouri, but a statewide expansion was built into the budget passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Jay Nixon.  That means an additional 200,000 parents and children on Medicaid will be covered under managed care rather than fee-for-service. Under the plan, the elderly, blind and disabled would be exempt.




Missouri’s heavy rains wash bacteria into recreational waterways

Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer and many people are ready to go swimming, but health officials warn heavy rains may wash harmful bacteria into swimmers favorite recreational waterways.

The Little Sac River Bridge

The Little Sac River Bridge

The Springfield-Green County Health Department and the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks have started monitoring popular swimming spots in Greene County for the presence of E. coli.  The E. coli count is an indication of fecal water contamination, which can make swimmers sick.

Kathryn Wall is the Public Health Information Administrator for the Springfield-Green County Health Department.

“We found some areas that were a little bit higher than we like, the highest was the Little Sac River, and the E. coli levels there were just a little too high for our comfort level,” said Wall.  “We’re not telling people don’t go swim or anything like that, just be more aware of what you’re getting into.”

Wall said E. coli levels are often high during periods of storm water runoff.

“Don’t go swimming after really heavy rains, that’s going to tend to really wash things out into those creeks, if the water is murky, generally it’s a place to avoid,” said Wall.  “E. coli is most common in fecal material and so in the Ozarks we do have some agriculture, so some of that is going to naturally wash away into the water streams, so usually we just kind of tell people to wait it out.”

Wall said there is a certain amount of danger when E. coli levels are high.

“Too high of concentrations can make people sick and in some cases can be fatal, especially for people very young, very old, or immune compromised for one reason or another,” said Wall.

Wall said swimmers should avoid swallowing water and swimming when sick.  Wall said it’s important to thoroughly wash hands and shower after swimming.

“There a lot of people who are at the creek all day and they take a lunch and might not think about it, they get out of the water, and go straight to their lunch, and don’t think about that bacteria that’s on their hands,” said Wall.

The most recent test results for the Springfield area can be found on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s website.

New state psychiatric hospital officially under construction

The building of a new state psychiatric hospital in Fulton is now underway. Governor Jay Nixon spoke at Wednesday’s groundbreaking and says the state-of-the-art facility is critical for people with challenges.

groundbreaking1“We have a moral responsibility to its patients, their caregivers and this community. This community has been so open and accepting of the difficult mission assigned to it,” said Nixon.

Nixon says the maximum security facility will be a game changer for those suffering from severe mental illness.

“It will be a cohesive, secure and therapeutic environment. It will include a 300 bed, high security hospital,” says Nixon.

The new campus will include improved vocational and recreational rehab facilities, modern dietary services, a new administration building, an auditorium and a high efficiency heating and cooling system.

hospital1The project is estimated to cost $211 million. The Governor says an investment of this nature is vital to do and a vote of the people was not necessary.

“That’s why the way we did it over the last three years to put some general revenue in to make sure we had the planning done. When interest rates were low we made the long term investment that this facility is,” said Nixon.

Fulton State Hospital was built in 1851 and is the oldest state psychiatric hospital west of the Mississippi River. Last year, the Legislature backed the Governor’s plan to replace the outdated and deteriorating facility with the new hospital that will be safer for patients and staff and more conducive to modern treatment.

The Department of Mental Health is slated to have the project finished by the end of 2017.

Dan Patterson, KWIX, contributed to this story.


MU study finds atmospheric release of BPA may reach nearby waterways

A University of Missouri study says chemicals released in the air by industrial sites and wastewater treatment sites could adversely affect wildlife and humans.

Chris Kassotis and his team of researchers believe atmospheric releases of BPA may create a concern for contamination of local surface water, which may lead to human and wildlife exposure.

Chris Kassotis and his team of researchers believe atmospheric releases of BPA may create a concern for contamination of local surface water, which may lead to human and wildlife exposure. (Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri)

Researchers from the University of Missouri have studied Missouri water quality near industrial sites that are allowed to release Bisphenol-A (BPA) into the air.  BPA is a chemical often used to make plastic containers that store food and beverages.  BPA has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.

Chris Kassotis and his team sampled water near locations with reported atmospheric discharges of BPA as identified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We sampled at the Crooked River in Richmond, Missouri and Flat Creek near Jenkins, Missouri,” said Kassotis.  “We also sampled near other point sources of pollution, so wastewater discharge sites in four areas of the state as well.”

Kassotis said the study revealed two key points.

“We found that the BPA concentrations of Bisphnol-A were up to ten times greater than normal near sites where there had been some sort of atmospheric discharge of the chemical and there were elevated amounts of anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic chemicals in sites that had some sort of wastewater influence,” said Kassotis.

Kassotis said exposure to BPA may produce adverse health effects.

“BPA interacts with the endocrine system of animals and humans,” said Kassotis.  “BPA can lead to the development of breast and prostate cancers, obesity, other metabolic diseases, decreased fertility and reproductive health, neurological and behavioral effects such as ADHD and austism.”

The study was published in the journal, Science of the Total Environment.