The Eating Disorder Coalition Lobby Day Educates the Community About EDs
On October 28th, hundreds of people convened on Capitol Hill to attend the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Lobby Day. The Lobby Day, held twice per year, brings survivors, families, friends, and professionals together to educate legislators about eating disorders and ask for help with important policies like the Anna Westin Act. Designed to address treatment coverage, training for professionals and educators, and truth in advertising, the Act has gained bipartisan support and, thanks to the many voices raised in unison, the importance of these issues is being heard.
Asking for Help
Center for Discovery attended Lobby Day in force, representing several states that house our adolescent and adult residential eating disorder treatment centers. At this Lobby Day we focused again on the Anna Westin Act and especially the need for increased parity for eating disorders. Professionals from different treatment centers all over the country joined consumers to ask lawmakers for help in securing parity across all levels of eating disorder treatment. Parents talked about their children, some of whom have been through relapse multiple times because of premature discharge from treatment. Overwhelmingly, those in attendance at Lobby Day want adequate treatment for their clients and loved ones. Early detection and appropriate treatment are keys to lasting recovery. Passage of the Anna Westin Act will provide:
- Training for pediatricians, emergency room staff, school counselors, school nurses, teachers, and mental health professionals so they can learn to recognize the early signs of an eating disorder and act quickly to prescribe appropriate treatment.
- Parity for eating disorder treatment. For example, a person diagnosed with anorexia may need inpatient medical stabilization followed by residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and finally outpatient treatment to achieve recovery. Parity is meant to treat an eating disorder comparably to a physical illness. A person with broken bones may require an inpatient stay acutely, followed by rehabilitation, physical therapy, and ongoing outpatient checkups. The Anna Westin Act requests that eating disorder treatment be covered by insurance companies in the same thorough way as physical illnesses are.
- Truth in advertising requests that the Federal Trade Commission determine whether photoshopped images in the media need to be regulated and if so, implement strategies to achieve this.
Lobby Day provides an opportunity for personal stories to be shared with lawmakers or their aides. This year, meetings were held in conference rooms and hallways, in the offices of senators and representatives. Our voices give life to the facts and figures presented for review, and give further proof of the need for critical action on these issues.
A Personal and Professional Mission
I have been attending the EDC Lobby Days since moving to the Washington, DC area in 2011. As a survivor and professional, there are many things I feel deserve the attention of our lawmakers. The EDC has worked hard to draft low-cost or no-cost legislation that asks for attention to the needs of people suffering from eating disorders. Each time I attend Lobby Day I am given the opportunity to share my story and also my insights as a professional who works with eating disorder clients. In my time in the field I’ve encountered many people who could not receive treatment because their insurance plan does not have a residential benefit, and others who were denied treatment because they’ve met their goal weight and insurance has deemed them well. These are the people who fall through the cracks as they do not receive the appropriate treatment and risk relapse. Each time I attend a Lobby Day I am amazed by the courage of the people in attendance, and am grateful for the Eating Disorders Coalition for their tireless advocacy and action on the issues that are of life-saving importance to people suffering from eating disorders.