The director of the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders says a possible loss of state funding will be devastating for eating disorder patients throughout New York State.
Mary Tantillo, PhD, recently testified at the Joint Legislative Hearing of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on the 2013-2014 Executive Budget. She says a proposal for the coming fiscal year would pool funding for a number of chronic disease treatment programs including eating disorders, obesity, hypertension, Alzheimer's Disease and osteoporosis. Administrators of those treatment programs would be competing for a limited pool of dollars to fund their efforts, based on their ability to deliver identified health outcomes. "We've collected outcomes in all of our programs, we've monitored our case management services and so to have to reapply to exist and to get funding when we're part of the state public health law, and we've done the outcome tracking in the best way we could already, it's just very frustrating," said Tantillo.
Eliminating funding for the CCCEDs would increase costs for the state in the long-run, according to Tantillo, and would put the lives of many New Yorkers at risk. "Many people left untreated or not treated well because they have fragmented care end up on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security Disability. Some end up on welfare. They can't give back to the community in the way that they would if they were healthy. They can't be tax paying citizens leading productive lives." Tantillo said eating disorders, left untreated, often lead to a host of costly illnesses ranging from osteoporosis and heart disease to depression, anxiety and chemical abuse.
Tantillo said treatment for eater disorders requires specialized and intensive care. The New York State Comprehensive Care Centers for Eating Disorders began in 2005 with $500,000 in state funding for each of the three virtual centers operating in Rochester, New York City and Albany. Starting 2009, the centers saw a 92% decrease in state funding.
Tantillo testified in Albany that approximately 800,000 New Yorkers have had or will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, based on national prevalence rates of nearly 20 million.