FRANKFORT – After a Kentucky mother traveled to the Capitol twice in recent months to testify about the heart-wrenching decision to send her daughter out of state for treatment of anorexia nervosa, legislation addressing access to that specialized care advanced out of the state Senate Monday.
“The issue of eating disorders has largely been ignored in Kentucky,” said Senate Republican Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams of Louisville, who sponsored the measure, known as Senate Bill 82. “It is a mental health diagnosis that essentially means an individual has little or no options for care in the state. It is time for this issue to be addressed by the members of the General Assembly.”
Adams said 900,000 Kentuckians, including nearly 30,000 children, have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. She added there are no acute care programs, residential or partial hospitalization programs for eating disorders in Kentucky.
SB 82 would establish the Kentucky Eating Disorder Council. The group would oversee the development and implementation of eating disorder awareness, education, prevention and research programs. The council would also be responsible for making recommendations regarding legislative and regulatory changes to improve access to care for eating disorders.
The second section of SB 82 would establish a trust to support the council. It would be funded by public and private sector grants or contributions. SB 82 passed by a 34-0 vote.
In other activity from the floor, Senate Bill 122 also cleared the chamber. It’s a modification to Tim’s Law of 2017. Tim’s Law allowed judges to order assisted outpatient treatment for people who have been involuntarily hospitalized at least twice in the past 12 months. SB 122 would extend the period to 24 months.
“The goal is to stop that revolving door of these individuals in and out of the state psychiatric hospital, in and out of the responsibility of peace officers for their transportation, in and out of mental inquest court, and in and out of jail when they break the law as a result of their untreated serious mental illness,” said Adams, who also sponsored SB 122. The bill passed by a 33-1 vote.
SB 82 and SB 122 will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration.