Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) National Lobby Day on Capitol Hill
On September 17 and September 18, 2013, ANAD’s legislative counsel, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, represented ANAD at the Fall 2013 Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) National Lobby Day on Capitol Hill to support the education, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders.
The EDC held its Awards Reception & Meet and Greet Social on September 17, 2013, the evening before its Fall Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. The event was held at the Credit Union House on Capitol Hill and was an opportunity for EDC advocates to get to know one another and other EDC supporters. Each year during this event, the EDC recognizes a Member of Congress who has shown notable leadership in advancing EDC’s policy goals. This year, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) was given the honor. Chairman Harkin—who is retiring in 2014—was given a warm welcome from the group, and he gave a touching off-the-cuff speech about how much he admires the advocates’ strength and bravery in coming to Washington, DC to openly discuss such a difficult, personal topic. The Chairman noted his longtime support for federal efforts to advance eating disorders research, education, prevention, treatment and insurance coverage.
The next day on the Hill, advocates stressed two main messages. First, in meetings with members of the House of Representatives, advocates asked that the representative co-sponsor and support the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act of 2013 (the “FREED Act”). Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced the FREED Act (H.R. 2101) on May 22, 2013, and the legislation currently has 23 co-sponsors. The FREED Act is a comprehensive approach to addressing eating disorders and would provide needed action in the areas of research, treatment, education, and prevention.
Advocates crafted a different message for Senators. Specifically, advocates asked their Senators to join Senator Harkin’s recent efforts to address eating disorders. Senator Harkin is currently developing legislation that would accomplish four main goals: coordinate federal research efforts, improve tracking and surveillance of eating disorders at the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), improve training of medical providers to help them recognize and treat eating disorders, and develop more community-, clinic-, and school-based interventions to prevent eating disorders. Senator Harkin’s legislation would not require any new funding, but would simply focus current efforts on eating disorders.
EDC advocates also attended a lunch briefing, hosted by Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL). The EDC and advocates recognized Representative Hastings for being a leader on eating disorders. Representative Hastings highlighted his work with First Lady Michelle Obama in messaging her Let’s Move campaign. The remainder of the briefing focused on the intersection of eating disorders and obesity. The speakers emphasized the dangers associated with both of the disorders, and noted that the campaign to address obesity can increase the risk of eating disorders in some individuals.
More Information on the FREED Act:
Representative Ted Deutch from Boca Raton, Florida re-introduced the FREED Act, originally proposed in 2009, on May 22, 2013. The FREED Act proposes to provide Federal funding for research initiatives to learn more about the prevalence of eating disorders and the specific death rates associated with eating disorders (which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified). This funding would also be used to conduct an economic analysis of the costs of eating disorders in the United States.
In addition, the FREED Act would encourage prevention of eating disorders through grant programs designed to educate and train health professionals to identify, prevent, and address eating disorders. This would include a focus on addressing eating disorders in school environments. The FREED Act would use funds to incorporate eating disorders into obesity-related initiatives, and would focus on increasing public service announcements to address eating disorders.
The FREED Act also ensures that Americans with eating disorders would be provided access to adequate treatment and care. The bill would require insurers that provide health coverage for physical illness to cover treatment for eating disorders as well. All care would be required to meet the standards set forth in the Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Eating Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. The type of treatment that insurers would be required to cover would include family, individual, and group therapies; nutrition counseling; psychopharmacology; body image therapy; and medical treatment.