Thursday, February 25, 2010

Federal Lawsuit: National Insurance Company Denied Wisconsin Woman Critical Treatment for Life-Threatening Eating Disorder

Contact: Joe Kelly,; 651.645.5323 ext 202; cell: 651.332.0275
Kitty Westin,; 952-240-5761

(Saint Paul, Minn.) A complaint has been filed in federal court alleging that a National Health Insurance Company repeatedly denied critically needed residential eating disorder treatment for a Wisconsin college student covered by her mother's health insurance plan.

Discussion of the lawsuit and other important issues related to access to care for people struggling with eating disorders will take place during The Emily Program Foundations We Speak UP! Time to Talk about Eating Disorders Treatment & Recovery,rally on February 26 in St. Paul.

The plaintiff, Jane Doe,will speak publicly about her experiences for the first time and will be joined by her attorney, Elizabeth Wrobel; Eating Disorders Coalition past-president Kitty Westin; and University of Minnesota eating disorders researcher Scott Crow, MD.

The We Speak Up! rally is part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week and will also feature:
* Forum for participants to write their insurance companies and state insurance regulators.
* Opportunity for participants to add their insurance stories to those being gathered across the U.S. by the National Eating Disorders Association.

Where: In Person: The Emily Program Foundation, 2265 Como Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108
Online: Live streaming webcast @
Noon EST / 11 AM CST / 10 AM MST / 9 AM PST
Webcast viewers are full participants; they can submit questions, chat with each other and Twitter throughout the event.

The lawsuit involves a 23-year-old woman who developed life-threatening health issues (including cardiac complications) as a result of eating disorder symptoms she has battled for over half of her life. Her psychiatrist and physician agree she had a critical need for residential care due to deteriorating mental and physical health. She has been trying, since July of 2008, to obtain authorization for such treatment from her insurance company. Her requests have been repeatedly delayed, ignored and denied.

WHO SHOULD DECIDE? Who is most qualified to decide about an individual's mental health needs: insurance companies or a treatment team composed of medical experts who have personal experience with the individual? We believe it is the latter. And we believe that in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and across the nation, people are suffering and dying when medically-recommended care is denied.

The Emily Program Foundation ( is a Twin Cities nonprofit that promotes eating disorder awareness, education, advocacy, research, and community support.

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