New Program Increases Access to Care for Those with Eating Disorders | The Kennedy Forum

New Program Increases Access to Care for Those with Eating Disorders
May 10, 2019

EDequity will Hold Insurers Accountable and Empower Families to Stand Up for Parity Rights

New York, N.Y., May 10, 2019 – This week, The Kennedy Forum and Project Heal hosted “An Evening with Patrick J. Kennedy,” to announce the launch of EDequity, a program designed to identify where critical gaps in eating disorder care are occurring and drive solutions through parity education, custom appeals resources, strategic partnerships, and more.

Eating disorders affect 10% of the population and are the second deadliest mental health disorder after opioid use disorder. Yet, despite the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008 (Federal Parity Law), which requires most insurers to cover illnesses of the brain no more restrictively than illnesses of the body, 70% of those suffering from eating disorders don’t get treatment, largely due to insufficient insurance coverage.

Unlawful denials of care by insurers often result in families being forced to deplete retirement accounts, take out second mortgages, or forgo treatment altogether due to an inability to pay out-of-pocket. EDequity will empower families to understand their parity rights, navigate the complex insurance appeals process, pursue legal action when appropriate, and connect with support systems and resources.

The Kennedy Forum, a national nonprofit focused on advancing mental health parity, is well versed in appeals processes. In 2015, it created, a website that provides detailed appeals guidance, links to critical resources, and a platform for sending complaints to state enforcement officials.

“EDequity is a first of its kind in that it focuses specifically on eating disorders,” said former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, lead author of the Federal Parity Law and founder of The Kennedy Forum. “When you have people coming together to share experiences, identify common roadblocks, and advance best practices, things are going to change. For far too long, those with mental health conditions, including eating disorders, have faced a separate and unequal system of care. Enough is enough.”

Project Heal, the nation’s leading advocacy organization for those with eating disorders, is committed to breaking down barriers to care at all stages of the treatment and recovery experience. In addition to addressing insurance concerns, Project Heal also provides free peer support and mentorship opportunities. “Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible with the right care,” said Kristina Saffran, co-founder and CEO of Project Heal. “Anyone struggling should be able to get the support they need to heal, regardless of age, gender identity, race, ability, or financial means.”

At the kickoff event in New York City on May 8, Kennedy reminded a room full of families, advocates, and supporters that those with eating disorders face some of the worst discrimination at the hands of insurers and encouraged everyone to stand up for their parity rights.

To learn more about the EDequity program, visit


About The Kennedy Forum
Founded in 2013 by former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), The Kennedy Forum leads a national dialogue on transforming the health care system by uniting mental health advocates, business leaders, and government agencies around a common set of principles, including full implementation of the Federal Parity Law. Launched in celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the landmark Community Mental Health Act, the nonprofit aims to achieve health equity by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming for the treatment of mental health and addiction. The Kennedy Forum’s “Don’t Deny Me” campaign educates consumers about their rights under the Federal Parity Law and connects them with essential appeals guidance and resources. To learn more about The Kennedy Forum and donate, please visit

About Project Heal
Project HEAL is the largest grassroots eating disorder non-profit in the U.S. focused on providing access to healing, via a treatment access program and the first comprehensive eating disorder peer support program, Communities of HEALing. Cofounders Kristina Saffran and Liana Rosenman started HEAL at 15 years old, in recovery from anorexia. They have now become the premier voice of recovery and support an international community of 100,000 patients and families connected through 40 chapters.