Legislative Advocacy

  • ANAD Advocacy Goal
  • ANAD’s Voice in Washington - McDermott Will & Emery
  • What can I do to help ANAD?
  • In the News!

ANAD’s Advocacy Goal:

ANAD’s advocacy goal is to bring attention to the full-spectrum of Eating Disorders in both Federal and State government policies.  ANAD promotes awareness of the dangers of Eating Disorders to the Government and the general public.  Eating Disorders are a public health problem everyone needs to be aware of!  ANAD advocates for the reduction of barriers and obstacles to insurance benefits; and discriminatory medical management of those struggling with all Eating Disorders.  ANAD promotes the development of healthy bodies, attitudes and behaviors for children, teens and adults.

Key Developments

  • Eating Disorders Coalition – Senate Letter to Secretary Sebelius Urging Parity for Eating Disorders Sent!ANAD congratulates the efforts of the EDC and their efforts with Senator Tammy Baldwin for their letter writing campaign to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  We have faith that these actions will make a real impact and we thank you to all our supporters who reached out to your Senator!  To read more check out the Eating Disorders Coalition’s BlogSpot, click HERE!
  • Charlotte, NC – Resolutions 2013 – National Student Nurses’ Association“In support of the establishment of wellness programs by healthcare institutions to prevent, manage and educate about about obesity among healthcare workers to:
    • to support research about nutrition and behavioral interventions regarding obesity;
    • encourage its constituents to be screeners, teacher, referrers and advocates for individualized nutritional and behavioral interventions for the treatment for and prevention of obesity;
    • published an article supporting healthy lifestyle choices and promote the success of wellness programs already established throughout the country.”



  • Virginia House Bill 1406, which states, “Each school board shall annually provide parent educational information regarding eating disorders for pupils in grades five through 12.”February 11, 2013, the Virginia State House has passed a bill requiring Virginia school boards to give students’ parents information about eating disorders.  Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education will work with the Virginia Department of Health to create policies on providing parents with correct information about eating disorders from informed medical experts.  March 26, 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell signed the bill for parental education and school screenings for eating disorders into law. This marks a landmark victory in the fight against eating disorders.
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) & Its Impact on Mental Health Parity  

ACA UPDATES:  November 20, 2012 – The Obama administration issued a proposed rule that, beginning in beginning in 2014, prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against individuals because of a pre-existing or chronic condition. For more information regarding this rule, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/market-reforms11202012a.html.
Additionally,  the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed rule that helps consumers shop for and compare non-grandfathered private health insurance options in the individual and small group markets by promoting consistency across plans, and protecting consumers by ensuring that plans cover a core package of items and services. For more information regarding this rule, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/ehb11202012a.html.                                                                                                                                        

On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court Upheld by a 5-4 vote that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional.  The ACA is the comprehensive health care overhaul signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 which—impacts federal mental health parity law in several ways.  While it does not change federal mental health coverage requirements, it does require additional types of health insurance plans to comply with the parity law.  These plans include:

*Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) that will be offered through state-based insurance exchanges (the insurance marketplaces that are being established by the ACA to assist individuals and small businesses with the purchase of health insurance);

*Health insurance plans offered via the individual market; and

          *Medicaid benchmark (and benchmark equivalent) plans that are not managed care plans.

In addition to expanding what types of health plans must comply with the  parity law, the ACA also affects coverage of mental health and substance abuse services through the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) package.  QHPs offered via the exchanges will be required to offer a minimum package of benefits, referred to as the EHB package.  Additionally, all new plans offered via the small group market and individual market must comply, as must Medicaid benchmark and benchmark equivalent plans.

Specifically, there will be 10 categories of services/items that must be included in an EHB, one of which is a category for mental health and substance abuse services, which includes behavioral health treatment.  The Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of setting EHB rules and appears to be leaning toward an approach that offers significant state flexibility in determining the specifics of an EHB package, based on a bulletin released in late 2011.

Other Federal Legislation  Additional federal legislative efforts that ANAD is monitoring include:

  • Eating Disorders Awareness, Prevention, and Education Act (H.R. 36) – A bill introduced by ANAD’s hometown Representative—Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL)—to raise awareness of and create educational programs to prevent eating disorders.
  • Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention America Act (S.174) – A bill to improve the health of Americans and reduce health care costs by reorienting the nation’s health care system toward prevention, wellness, and health promotion.
  • Federal Response to Eliminating Eating Disorders Act (FREED Act) (S. 481) (H.R. 1448) -Comprehensive eating disorders legislation that  addresses critical research, treatment, education and prevention needs in the eating disorders community.  May 23, 2013 FREED Act ingroduced!
  • Mental Health Parity Bill PASSED-A law that requires that annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits be no lower than any such dollar limits for medical and surgical benefits offered by a group health plan or health insurance.  Federal mental health parity laws (taken together from 1996 and 2008) require that certain insurers—when they choose to cover mental health and substance abuse services—must offer mental health and substance abuse coverage that is on par with the coverage the insurer provides for medical and surgical services.  Specifically, this parity applies in the following areas:Annual and aggregate lifetime limits;
    • Annual and aggregate lifetime limits;
    • Treatment limitations;
    • Financial requirements; and
    • In-network and out-of-network covered benefits.

    Mental health parity law applies to specific types of insurance plans.  They include large fully- and self-insured health plans, Medicaid managed care plans and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) health plans.

ANAD’s Voice in Washington

McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice, serving a broad range of client interests over the last 75 years.  Established in 1934 as a tax practice in Chicago, Illinois, McDermott has grown its core practices and offices around the globe.

McDermott Will & Emery is recognized as the #1 Health Law Firm in the United States.   For three consecutive years, Chambers USA has recognized McDermott Will & Emery as the only law firm to receive a Tier 1 ranking nationally in health care.  The Legal 500 USA similarly ranked McDermott Will & Emery as the only Tier 1 firm nationally in health care.  Additionally,  McDermott Will & Emery is the only firm to be ranked Tier 1 in health care nationally by all three of the legal industry’s top directories: Chambers USA, The Legal 500 USA and U.S. News-Best Lawyers.  Chambers also recognized McDermott Will & Emery specifically for outstanding client service and health care industry knowledge.

McDermott has a long history of social responsibility and supporting the communities in which its people live and work. McDermott believes it is their obligation to embrace their communities and promote their well being through pro bono work, community service, charitable giving, environmental stewardship and promoting diversity.  McDermott Will & Emery acts on this belief collectively and individually, and works hard to make a positive difference, including providing pro bono legal services to ANAD by acting as our Washington Lobbyists.  McDermott’s work on ANAD’s behalf is limited to federal advocacy and does not include legal work.

McDermott Will & Emery represents ANAD in Washington DC so that our voice is heard at regular coalition meetings of interest to the eating disorders community, including:

ANAD’s Affiliations:

  • Academy of Eating Disorders (AED)
  • Binge Eating Disorder Association, Inc. (BEDA)
  • Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC)
  • International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP)

What can I do to help ANAD?

YOU can make a DIFFERENCE!   “A mountain is composed of tiny grains of dirt. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water.  Life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences of every one of them are far-reaching.”

Federal Legislation proposed to provide improved insurance coverage, research, education, and more for eating disorders.

House Bill 36                      House Bill 1448                      Senate Bill 481

State Legislation bills proposed in your state to provide improved insurance coverage, research, education and more for eating disorders.

California – Assembly Bill 154                Connecticut -Senate Bill 877        Illinois – House Bill 1530

Maryland -House Bill 570                        Missouri -Senate Bill 229 or House Bill 1509

New Jersey -Assembly Bill 3970 or Senate Bill 948                                North Dakota- Senate Bill 2354

Pennsylvania -Senate Bill 429               Texas-House Bill 1292                       Virginia-Senate Joint 294

In the News!

The Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) held its annual Spring Lobby Day on April 2 and 3, 2014.  The event kicked off the evening of April 2 with a reception held at the Stewart Mott House on Capitol Hill.  This was an opportunity for EDC Lobby Day participants from around the country to gather socially before their day of advocacy on Capitol Hill.  Long-time eating disorders advocate Kathleen MacDonald welcomed the group to Capitol Hill, and also introduced the group to Seth Matlins, a marketer who works to promote positive images and has been working with the EDC on new legislation.

That new bill—H.R. 4341—is known as the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 and is sponsored by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).  In short, the legislation would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to submit a report to Congress on the use of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of faces and bodies, in advertising and other commercial media.  The FTC report would include a strategy to reduce the use of such images, as well as recommendations for an appropriate, risk-based regulatory framework with respect to such use.  H.R. 4341 has two original cosponsors—Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL).

On April 3, advocates gathered for basic training and message training, and then attended the EDC Congressional Briefing titled Truth in Advertising:  The FTC’s Role in Protecting Consumers from Photoshopped Ads.  The event was hosted by Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and attended by EDC advocates and Capitol Hill staff.  Following the lunch briefing, EDC advocates fanned out across Capitol Hill to share their personal stories and seek cosponsors for H.R. 4341.

Time magazine published an article on these efforts, found here: http://time.com/48853/lobbyists-push-congress-to-curb-misleading-photoshopped-ads/  Pictured is Kathleen MacDonald addressing the  introducing Seth Matlins to a group of advocates.


ANAD’s legislative counsel, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, recently represented ANAD at the Fall 2013 Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) National Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, which took place on September 17 and 18, 2013.  Advocates at the Lobby Day took the opportunity to educate legislators and their staff about eating disorders, and many shared personal stories about their battles with anorexia and other eating disorders.In addition to their personal stories, advocates took two messages to Members of Congress. Advocates requested that members of the House of Representatives co-sponsor and support the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act of 2013 (the “FREED Act”).  Advocates asked Senators to join forces with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to build bipartisan legislation to focus and consolidate federal efforts on eating disorders.The EDC Lobby Day, which occurs twice a year, is an important way to educate members of Congress about eating disorders and their impact on individuals and society. ANAD looks forward to participating in the Spring 2014 EDC Lobby Day.ANAD supports EDC (Eating Disorders Coalition) continued efforts to improve federal policy for persons with eating disorders.  Therefore, we request all ANAD supporters to help the EDC by sending a message to your Member of Congress, urging them to sign a House side letter with three champions: Ted Deutch (D-FL), Hank Johnson (D-GA) and, Alcee Hastings (D-FL). by Friday, June 7.  Click EDC Sample Letter for directions on how to contact your representative and sample letter.
For more information on EDC or this initiative please visit www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org
Thursday, May 23, 2013 – EDC Press Release www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org

“The Eating Disorder Coalition (EDC) applauds Representative Ted Deutch’s (D-FL)  introduction of H.R. 2101 the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act of 2013 (FREED Act). The FREED Act is comprehensive legislation that is a crucial step in responding to eating disorders.

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and yet those suffering too often find themselves marginalized and without treatment,” said Congressman Deutch. “The ignorance in our society surrounding eating disorders is costing us lives, and the federal government has a responsibility to take action. I have sponsored the FREED Act to better educate our communities about eating disorders, provide for much-needed research, and ultimately improve access to treatment before it’s too late.”
EDC President Johanna Kandel said, “We thank Congressman Deutch for being a champion for eating disorders and are grateful that he has introduced this important piece of legislation. The FREED Act will not only help us to better understand eating disorders, it will improve the access to treatment for those currently suffering with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not a partisan issue and the FREED Act has the potential to save thousands of lives. We urge Congress to pass this bill quickly.”
The FREED Act would provide funding and direction to NIH for research and surveillance, provides for education and prevention activities, and improves access to treatment of eating disorders by requiring coverage of eating disorders be consistent with coverage of medical/surgical benefits.
The introduction of the FREED Act was a focus of EDC’s spring lobby day. EDC members and supporters traveled to Washington to advocate for the introduction of the FREED Act, and to increase support for FREED and eating disorders policy on the Hill.
Original cosponsors of H.R. 2101 are:  Reps. Gerald Connolly (VA-11), John Conyers (MI-13), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Hank Johnson (GA-4), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4),  James Moran (VA-8), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Richard Nolan (MN-8), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Jared Polis (CO-2), Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23).”

On April 16 and April 17, 2013, ANAD’s voice in Washington, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, represented ANAD at the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) National Lobby Day on Capitol Hill to support education, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders.

On April 16, 2013, EDC hosted a reception on Capitol Hill to celebrate the work of eating disorder organizations and hear the moving stories of long-time advocates who have recovered from eating disorders.  The following day, advocates took their stories to legislators and staff as part of EDC’s Lobby Day.

The message to the Hill was three fold. First, advocates stressed that eating disorders are serious and life threatening. Although some people mistakenly view eating disorders as a selfish and extreme form of dieting, eating disorders are real diseases and have serious effects on the body. In fact, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder.

Second, advocates offered a more hopeful message by emphasizing that lives can be saved. Individuals who receive proper treatment can recover and live healthy and productive lives. Advocates noted that more funding is needed to research eating disorders and treatments. This research can aid in critical education efforts, which can help prevent eating disorders from occurring or stop them from advancing to life threatening illnesses.

Third, the Coalition and advocates impressed upon legislators and their staff that Congress can make a difference. For example, the group conveyed strong support for the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (the FREED Act).  The FREED Act would not only provide education and prevention opportunities related to eating disorders, but would also provide individuals suffering from eating disorders with improved access to adequate treatment.

Through these Lobby Day efforts, the EDC and ANAD emphasized that access to proper treatment can help individuals to recover from eating disorders and lead healthy lives.  ANAD looks forward to participating in the next EDC Lobby Day on September 18, 2013.


SAVE THE DATES  for the 2013 EDC National Lobby Days – April 17 & Sept. 18

The EDC brings advocates together twice a year for our National Lobby Days as the most effective way to educate Members of Congress and push for important policy goals like the FREED Act. Join us for an EDC National Lobby Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC where your voice makes a difference in the lives of those affected by eating disorders. By addressing eating disorders at the Federal level, you have the opportunity to help everyone impacted by eating disorders. You will learn to tell your story and share your experience in a way that leaves a notable impact on Members of Congress and staff. We need YOU to be part of these efforts. Come to our next lobby day.

March 26, 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell signed the bill for parental education and school screenings for eating disorders into law. This marks a landmark victory in the fight against eating disorders.

The law, which goes into effect in July, will require that information about eating disorders be sent home annually to parents of students in grades 5-12; the information will inform parents about signs and symptoms of eating disorders, and what to do if they suspect their child might have an eating disorder. The Department of Education and the Department of Health must also develop a toolkit for how schools can carry out eating disorder screenings, should they opt to do so.  Read More!

July 2012, Aetna Insurance is Sued By Thousands Of California Doctors For Coverage Denials:  The  lawsuit filed in Los Angeles against Aetna Health Insurance Company is due to the company routinely denying patients access to out-of-network doctors, even when the patient policy gives the patient the right to choose their health care provider. Read More!

Lobby Day Success! 

On April 24, 2012, the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) held its annual Spring Lobby Day in Washington, DC. ANAD was thrilled to be a part of the experience—which included briefings and gatherings that brought together eating disorders advocates from across the nation, in addition to meetings on Capitol Hill for which the EDC group fanned out based on their state affiliations.  Executive Director Laura Discipio attended the Lobby Day, along with ANAD’s Washington Counsel McDermott Will & Emery LLP.  Throughout the afternoon of April 24, ANAD met with several key offices of the Illinois Congressional Delegation, including health policy staff from the office of Senators Mark Kirk and Richard Durbin and Representatives Judy Biggert and Adam Kinzinger.

During the meetings, the ANAD group shared personal background and experiences in order to give federal lawmakers first-hand information on eating disorders, and also focused on highlighting the need for increased awareness, education, treatment and recovery options. To that end, the group expressed its support for a comprehensive eating disorders bill—the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act (H.R. 1448 and S. 481)—and urged lawmakers to support the important piece of legislation.  Overall, it was a productive day on Capitol Hill and the entire EDC Lobby Day was a successful way in which to bring together advocates from the eating disorders community to educate Members of Congress and staff about eating disorders and urge support for the FREED Act. The EDC typically organizes two lobby days each year—one in the spring and one in the fall—and ANAD looks forward to being a continued presence at these events.