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This week, 28-year-old Olympic champion Adam Rippon decided to open up about his battle with a severe eating disorder. His goal is to raise awareness about the prevalence of a disease that has long been underreported among male athletes. Adam’s issues with body image and disordered eating are prevalent in the athletic community.

Research shows that 45 percent of males suffering from anorexia are involved in an occupation or athletic team in which control of weight is important for good performance. Additional research shows that male figure skaters like Rippon, whose eyebrows, glutes and quads are frequently discussed in the media, are at great risk for developing an eating disorder, simply because of their participation in a sport where aesthetics are judged. EatingDisorderHope.com reports, “Male athletes who have to ‘make weight’ for competition, such as boxers or rowers, are more likely to engage in disordered eating behaviours such as extreme food and fluid restriction, or going for “sweat runs” wearing many layers of clothing.”

Eating disorders are the deadliest of all mental illnesses, with at least one person dying every 62 minutes. Kantor & Kantor, LLP extends their sincere gratitude to Adam Rippon, Yulia Lipnitskaya, Gracie Gold and all the other figure skaters who have recently shared with the world that they have suffered an eating disorder.

If you or someone you know have been denied treatment for an eating disorder, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (877) 783-8686 or fill out our online contact form http://www.kantorlaw.net/Contact-Us.aspx. We understand and we can help.

[If you are suffering with, or early on in your recovery from an eating disorder, we urge caution before you read articles about eating disorders as some may contain generalized, or even irrelevant information that may be harmful to your journey.]

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Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and will affect 30 million Americans at some point in their lives, but stigmas and misinformation prevent people from getting the help they need. (See http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/ for additional facts and statistics)

National Eating Disorders Awareness week is February 26, 2018 through March 4, 2018. This year’s theme is “Let’s Get Real.” The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders by educating the public, spreading messages of hope and optimism, and sharing resources with people in need. NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) hopes that with this year’s theme the conversation about eating disorders will expand to encompass stories that are often not told and reach new populations while sharing diverse stories of recovery.

The reality is that eating disorders can and do affect individuals of all genders, ages, races and ethnic identities, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds. Eating disorders can negatively impact anyone. Eating disorders can be defeated, but it’s not an easy or automatic process.

For additional information about joining National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and NEDA, please click on https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedawareness.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder and you are being denied benefits by your insurance, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at 800-446-7529. We understand, and we can help.

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The title of this blog shouldn’t be necessary, but it is. Shockingly, even in 2018, many people are not aware of the fact that eating disorders and body dysmorphia affect more than just women. In fact, all genders can develop eating disorders and/or body dysmorphia. Although there is data that says, “20 million women and 10 million men” suffer with eating disorders within the United States, that data is relatively archaic. And, it is also questionable since many studies end up with skewed prevalence figures due to gender bias. We also know that numbers might be low because many men still face great stigma when it comes to reporting they have an eating disorder since eating disorders have historically been touted as a “woman’s disease.” Akin to talking about breast cancer or spousal abuse, men are not necessarily raised to understand that: “Eating disorders can happen to men, too…and if it happens to me, I should not be ashamed, I should come forward for help.”

When stigma silences people, it is not good. In fact, various studies suggest that the risk of mortality for males with eating disorders is higher than it is for females –could this be a result of stigma? More research is necessary to determine how many men suffer, how their course of suffering might vary from other genders, and what their treatment trajectory is, especially if they suffer from comorbid conditions like depression, excessive exercise, substance disorders and anxiety. But until that research occurs and until stigma fully disappears, we are gladdened to see the issue of male eating disorders getting publicized like this overview on WetPaint.com http://www.wetpaint.com/eminem-male-celebrities-eating-disorder-1430463/. KUDOS to the men who came forward to say, “This happened to me and I am not ashamed.” We also applaud the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals for hosting a session at their 2018 Symposium that will focus on males with eating disorders.

No one should be afraid to ask for help for an eating disorder, regardless of gender. No one should be denied treatment for an eating disorder, ever. At Kantor & Kantor, LLP, we represent clients of any gender who have been denied benefits for treatment. If you or someone you know has been denied insurance benefits for treatment, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (877) 783-8686 or fill out our online contact form http://www.kantorlaw.net/Contact-Us.aspx.

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Kantor & Kantor, LLP heartily applauds CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health Corporation, for its decision to “end touch ups of its beauty images in its marketing campaigns by the end of 2020.” On Monday January 15, 2018, CVS Pharmacy announced that that this decision will impact their marketing materials and that they will work with “key brand partners and industry experts” to develop specific guidelines in an effort to ensure transparency about images used by the company.

CVS will begin using the "CVS Beauty Mark," a watermark used to highlight imagery that is not digitally or materially altered. In essence, if a person’s “shape, size, skin or eye color, or any other individual characteristics” have been altered, there will be a watermark to indicate such.

We find this move by CVS to be bold and vitally important, especially given that so many people suffer from body image distortion and body image dysmorphia, both of which can have an influence on the development of eating disorders. This decision is equally important because research is clear that media can have a negative impact on self-esteem. In Joel Miller’s article, “Media and Body Image,” he shares alarming statistics related to the media’s effect on women and their body image:

  • Teen People Magazine conducted a recent survey. In it, they discovered that over 25% of the girls surveyed felt that the media makes them feel pressure to have a perfectly shaped body.

  • In another study, 69% of girls concurred that models found in magazines had a major influence on their concept of what a perfect body shape should look like.

  • Only 5% of women in the U.S. actually fit the current body type popularly portrayed in advertising.

We hope that every company will follow in the wise-footsteps of CVS! And we hope that CVS’s effort will result in a significant decrease in the number of people who look at unrealistically-airbrushed images and end up thinking self-deprecating thoughts because they feel they don’t “measure up.”

If you ever need treatment to overcome body image issues or an eating disorder, please know that you deserve treatment! If you are ever denied insurance benefits for treatment, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (877) 783-8686 or fill out our online contact form http://www.kantorlaw.net/Contact-Us.aspx

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One year ago today, on December 7, 2016, I had the humbling privilege of sitting in the balcony of the Senate’s Chamber with a small group of mental health advocates who nervously watched as votes tallied up on a bill that had been long in the making, the Anna Westin Act. On December 7, 2016, Congress made history by passing the 21st Century Cures Act which included the Anna Westin Act, the first-ever eating disorders specific bipartisan legislation to pass through Congress! The Anna Westin Act was named after Anna, the daughter of Mark and Kitty Westin, whose life was tragically cut short in 2000 due to anorexia. While the law will have a positive impact on over 30 million Americans who suffer from eating disorders, it will take time before the law’s language translates into daily-action. In the meantime, we unfortunately continue to witness tragic misperceptions about eating disorders.

Today, Retro Report released the video, Myths and Misconceptions about Eating Disorders, in which author Carrie Arnold shares her story about her personal battle with anorexia. Ms. Arnold also discusses the myths surrounding the disease that almost took her life, on more than one occasion. Retro Report’s video tells about Karen Carpenter, a singer who died on February 4, 1983, after a long battle with anorexia. This video is much needed. Eating disorders remain the number one killer of women ages 15-24, the deadliest of all mental illnesses, and affects people of all genders, all ages, all races, and all socioeconomic backgrounds – it is a disease that does not discriminate against its victims. And yet, eating disorders continue to suffer a seemingly enigmatic-perception that leaves many people thinking eating disorders are no big deal and that ‘everyone starves themselves from time to time.’ As a result, eating disorders often go undetected and untreated. We want that to stop. We want every person suffering to know that their suffering is not mythical or sublime. Suffering from an eating disorder is dangerous and those suffering deserve adequate and reputable treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder please know that there is hope for recovery and the ability to live a full life beyond the eating disorder.

You would think that in the nearly-25 years since Ms. Carpenter’s death, and nearly-18 years since Anna’s death, insurance companies would know that eating disorder sufferers are not suffering a disease of choice and that their treatment is not optional. You would think that by now, insurance companies would not deny someone medically necessary treatment claiming that they aren’t at serious risk of harm. Unfortunately, most insurance companies readily believe the myths and misconceptions highlighted by Retro Report. And that is why we do the work we do - because everyone deserves access to medically necessary treatment.

We encourage you to advocate with the Eating Disorders Coalition as they continue their work beyond the Anna Westin Act.

And, we encourage you that if you or someone you know has been denied insurance benefits for treatment, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (877) 783-8686 or fill out our online contact form: http://www.kantorlaw.net/Contact-Us.aspx.

-Kathleen MacDonald

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On Monday, November 27, 2017, a Capital Public Radio broadcast reported that insurance denials in California have risen dramatically.

The CapRadio story revealed an extreme increase in the number of Californian’s who have had to fight back against insurance denials in recent years, “...the California Department of Managed Health Care found that the number of contested denials handled by the department has nearly tripled over the past five years.” The reality is that as more people have become insured, more people have been denied the medically necessary treatment they need.

To read the full text of the broadcast please click on this link http://www.capradio.org/106000.

If you or someone you know has been denied insurance benefits for treatment, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (877) 783-8686 or fill out our online contact form http://www.kantorlaw.net/Contact-Us.aspx.

We understand and we can help.

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The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action (“EDC”) announced last week that 65 bipartisan Members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives sent letters to the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) urging that questions about eating disorders be re-included within the CDC national surveillance systems such as the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System. In 2015, the CDC and state stakeholders voted to remove the mandatory eating disorders surveillance questions. According to the EDC, “No CDC surveillance systems with youth or adults include eating disorders surveillance. Consequentially, eating disorder researchers and public health experts across the nation were left with only outdated and piecemeal data to help shape public health programs, identify emerging warning signs and symptoms, and discover highly affected communities and groups such as boys and men, Native Americans, and veterans.” At EDC’s Advocacy Day on October 5, 2017, advocates from across the country gathered on Capitol Hill and spoke to Members of Congress and their staff about the need for the CDC to re-include questions about eating disorders in their surveillance systems. It worked!

The Senate letter was led by Senators Tammy Baldwin [D-WI], Elizabeth Warren [D-MA], Shelley Moore Capito [R-WV], and Amy Klobuchar [D-MN], and supported by thirteen of their Senate colleagues. The House of Representatives letter was led by Rep. Markwayne Mullin [R-OK] and Rep. Ted Deutch [D-FL] and received support from an additional 46 bipartisan Representatives.. Both letters were addressed to Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The letters advised Dr. Fitzgerald that the data regarding the number of Americans affected by eating disorders is outdated because it was gathered over ten years ago. The letter stated, “Unfortunately, the national data needed to fully understand the prevalence and trends of this disease and to improve prevention and treatment efforts do not currently exist. Accordingly, we urge you to consider including questions related to eating disorders in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national surveillance surveys to help improve the lives of people affected by these deadly conditions. Improving data collection on eating disorders is particularly important given the high mortality rates...Increased hospitalizations for eating disorders and increased prevalence among men indicate that this public health issue is growing in significance and affecting new populations...” The letters also addressed the need to identify regions and communities that may be disproportionately affected by eating disorders, and determine whether specific groups (i.e.: veterans or military families) may need specialized prevention efforts and treatments. The EDC hopes to have a response from the CDC by mid to late November 2017. We will keep you posted!

Please remember that your voice matters and can make a difference. And always remember that if you feel like you do not have a voice against your insurance company, we are here and we can help. Call us at (877) 783-8686 for a free consultation, or visit our website to fill out a confidential contact form.

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On October 5, 2017, Kantor & Kantor, LLP joined over 100 advocates on Capitol Hill for The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action’s (EDC) Advocacy Day. Advocacy Day kicked off with welcome-speeches given by long-time EDC champion, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kitty Westin, one of the founding members of the EDC who lost her daughter Anna Westin to anorexia in 2000. After breakfast and training, advocates descended on Capitol Hill and Kantor & Kantor led a team of six advocates from California, Michigan and Montana. The team met with Senate and House offices to discuss eating disorders and two very important initiatives:

  • A letter from Members of Congress addressed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), urging the CDC to include/re-include eating disorders surveillance questions in the CDC surveys.
  • A House and Senate Resolution to designate the last week in February as “National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.”

The letter to the CDC, led by Harvard’s STRIPED, NEDA, EDC and AED, is important because it informs the CDC about the number of Americans that suffer from eating disorders, and impresses on the CDC the importance of national data to better understand eating disorder prevalence and trends so that prevention and treatment efforts can be improved. The letter also relayed deep concerns to the CDC that from 2015 forward, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey no longer included questions pertaining to fasting, diet pills, vomiting and laxatives. Although individual states had the option of including such questions in their surveys, eating disorder surveillance was no longer being done consistently and comprehensively across the country. According to the EDC, questions relating to eating disorders are “critical to helping researchers and practitioners understand the early signs and symptoms that may be associated with the development of eating disorders, identify regions or communities that are disproportionately affected by eating disorders, and determine whether specific groups – such as veterans or military families – that may need specialized prevention efforts and treatments are being overlooked.”

The House and Senate Resolutions (HR 428 (number to be announced in the Senate)) will, every year, recognize the final week in February as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The Resolution's aim to recognize the prevalence of eating disorders and need for treatment; raise public awareness of eating disorders; acknowledge that eating disorders can be successfully treated and people can recover; and encourage both the government and citizens to promote eating disorder awareness during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

The EDC advances the federal recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority and works to increase federal support of access to treatment. From tirelessly advocating for the passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (Mental Health Parity), to successfully having provisions of the Anna Westin Act of 2015 included in the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed in December 2016, the EDC’s work is vital to the entire eating disorders field. Kantor & Kantor, LLP is proud to be a Member Organization of the EDC and we look forward to our continued advocacy together. If you are interested in advocating on Capitol Hill, please visit the EDC’s website at www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org.

If you have been denied insurance benefits for treatment, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (877) 783-8686 or fill out our online contact form http://www.kantorlaw.net/Contact-Us.aspx.

We understand and we can help.

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Suicide. It’s not an easy topic to talk or blog about. But thankfully, through the hard work of people such as Pete Domenici, Ted and Patrick Kennedy, Paul Wellstone, Jim Ramstad, and so many amazing organizations like American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Crisis Text Line, we live in a day and age where we can talk about suicide . Yet, there remains much stigma around mental illness and suicide.

Stigma exists in many places and in many forms. At Kantor & Kantor, LLP, we see this stigma first-hand when insurance companies deny our clients the mental health benefits they need to get treatment. Every time we think we have read or heard about the most egregious denial, we read another egregious denial. Here are a few examples:

BlueCross Blue Shield of Illinois denied one of our clients saying, “You were not reported as being an imminent danger to self or others.” On the very day they denied our client benefits, his doctor noted, “John Doe exhibited the following symptoms which required his partial hospitalization treatment: suicidal, depressed, withdrawn, anxious, constricted, hopelessness, and overcome with depression and suicidal thoughts.” And, three days prior to insurance’s denial, our client stated outright, “I can’t really stand being myself. I wake up every day and I’m just completely depressed or can’t feel anything. I don’t want to do it anymore.” BlueCross Blue Shield of Illinois denied partial hospitalization treatment to our client, despite the fact that he had researched how and where to purchase chemicals with which he planned to suicide. How they felt our client was not an “imminent danger” to himself is nothing short of absurd. Our client was left with the options of: leaving treatment after ONE day of treatment, when insurance denied, or, come up with the $30,000 to pay for treatment while we worked on his case. NO ONE should have to face such stigma.

A client who was a veteran of several tours in Iraq was denied treatment for depression, PTSD and suicidal ideation. His insurance company ignored the fact that veterans returning from Iraq access mental health treatment at a much higher rate than those returning from Afghanistan or those in any other category. His insurance company also ignored the fact that our client suffered three of the most common diagnoses among returning-vets: PTSD, major depression and generalized anxiety. Those three diagnoses, combined with our client’s long exposure to combat, increased his risk of suicide by up to 200 times. Yet, his insurance company denied treatment saying, “The identified self-care concerns would not keep you from participating in treatment at a lower level of care.” Our client’s diagnoses and suffering were not simply “self-care concerns.”

Finally, an insurance company recently denied one of our clients who tried multiple ways to kill herself but “wasn’t successful.” While she was being assessed at a treatment center, waiting for insurance to authorize benefits, she stated, “I can’t promise that I will succeed but there is an 8/10 chance I will try.” Her insurance company denied treatment stating, “She is not suicidal, homicidal or psychotic.”

These denials break our heart. Especially because we know that all too often, the result is…suicide.

Suicide Is Preventable. Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a NYPD detective, trainer and researcher, who wrote an article on National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. According to Dr. Thompson, “Suicide is preventable, and one of the best ways to help someone experiencing suicidal thoughts is to engage them in conversation. In my work as a crisis negotiator in law enforcement, I have been reminded time and time again that communication skills are crucial to helping someone in need.” Dr. Thompson went on to say, “Feelings associated with a suicidal crisis include hopelessness, helplessness, isolation, and the sense that there are no other options. You can use active listening skills — along with some compassion — to let the person know that there is hope; they are not alone; and that they do have options.”

People considering suicide need us to care. We cannot discount their feelings. We need to realize their suffering is real. Insurance companies to realize that treatment is not debatable – it is necessary and might be lifesaving.

If you or someone you know are someone suffering, PLEASE do not give up. There is hope and there is help. We are here to help and so are the following organizations (not an exhaustive list):

  1. http://my3app.org/

  2. CrisisTextLine.org – Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

  3. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/find-support/im-having-thoughts-of-suicide/

  4. http://chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx

  5. https://kevinssong.org/

We hope that the words and resources in this blog encourage you to know that YOU ARE NOT alone, we are here with you and we will fight for you. You are not meant to be a statistic. #YouAreNecessary.

At Kantor & Kantor, we work to put an end to the stigma surrounding mental health. We will stand up to your insurance company if they deny your treatment.. If you or someone you know is suffering and you are being denied benefits for treatment by your insurance, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (888) 569-6013 or fill out our online contact form. We understand, and we can help.

This blog is dedicated to Senator Pete Domenici who passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

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For the past 72-hours, social media newsfeeds have been buzzing with posts about what a South Carolina Principal said to students this week during assemblies that, in part, discussed the school’s dress code. Here are her comments as shared by ABC News’s Drew Tripp:

“(Leggings are) meant to wear underneath a long shirt that covers your heiny, or a long sweater of some type, or a dress. It is not meant to be your actual pants, and if you have a shirt that comes to here, then you are showing everything. Yes, everything,” the woman said in the recording. “The sad thing is with that, ladies — if someone has not told you this before, I'm going to tell you this now — unless you are a size zero or a two, and you wear something like that, even though you are not fat, you look fat…”

Friday August 25, 2017, that South Carolina Principal released the following statement:

“Yesterday and this morning, I met with each class of the Stratford High School student body. I addressed a comment made during a 10th grade assembly and shared from my heart that my intention was not to hurt or offend any of my students in any way. I assured them all that I am one of their biggest fans and invested in their success...”

The high school’s Facebook page has since deleted a post about the Principal’s harmful words, but the following comment from the mother of an 11th grader, was shared before the post was deleted:

“Body shaming teenage girls is uncalled for, inappropriate and unprofessional. When I spoke with her, she talked around the issue, and made excuse after excuse, effectively calling all of the students liars…This has upset many, many more students than just those in the 10th grade. My daughter is in the 11th grade, and is livid. She has been ridiculed by students for her body, and shouldn’t be subjected to it from teachers.”

A young woman who once suffered with anorexia wrote: “As a teen- and an adult- who struggled - with anorexia, this isn’t true and this isn’t ok. You’re beautiful and you’re worthy, as a 0 and a 2 and a 20.”

At Kantor & Kantor we represent clients whose insurance company denies coverage for their eating disorder treatment. Many of our client’s medical records report that they distinctly remember comments like those made by this Principal and how those comments were what prompted them to begin eating disordered behaviors. And often when we are working on a client’s case, we read about how their negative body image caused them to think about suicide.

In 2013, The Center for Advancing Health’s Health Behavior News shared sobering news from the Journal of Adolescent Health, reporting a clear link between negative body image and suicide in middle and high schoolers. The report stated, “Researchers found that suicidal thoughts were higher in those who thought they were overweight compared to those who didn’t see themselves as overweight (18 percent vs. 10.4 percent), even after controlling for such variables as age, ethnicity and depression and independent of actual body mass index (BMI)… Seeing oneself as overweight or obese may be an important, independent predictor of suicidal thoughts, especially in young girls.”
We hope that this Principal, and other people who may promote unhealthy body images, will come to embrace realistic views related to size, includin

• Clothing companies have arbitrary sizes!
• What the label says on your clothing does not determine whether or not you should wear the article of clothing.
• No one’s size determines whether or not they “look fat” in clothing.
• “Fat” is not ugly and it is not bad –it is NECESSARY for the human body to live and thrive.
• The word “fat” has been used to shame people for their size and bring about serious discrimination, two things that are never acceptable.
• The size on a clothing label does not indicate whether a person is healthy, or happy.

At Kantor & Kantor, we work to put an end to stigma surrounding eating and body image disorders. We are willing to stand up to insurance companies when they deny treatment and we understand that eating disorders affect everyone differently. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder and you are being denied benefits for treatment by your insurance, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at (888) 569-6013 or fill out our online contact form. We understand, and we can help.

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