I just got back from Washington, DC for another fantastic day of advocacy on Capitol Hill. I’ve been volunteering with the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) for six years now, and I’m honored every time to take part in it.
The EDC advocates for legislative reform to better improve access to treatment, advance research, and educate both professionals and the public about eating disorders. If you or someone you know have ever had to seek treatment, then you know it’s often difficult. This is because of a complicated mix of disputes over diagnosis, established guidelines, and a misunderstanding of eating disorders.
Even though the American Psychiatric Association has compiled very specific and detailed guidelines for treatment, insurance companies have no obligation to follow them and often make up their own guidelines – which physicians often don’t have access to even while treating patients. So even if treatment is approved, it’s hard to know if it will be the kind of comprehensive treatment a particular patient needs.
The legislation the EDC is advocating for is called the Federal Response to the Elimination of Eating Disorders (FREED) Act, and it would help address these problems. It also contains provisions for helping medical professionals know what to look for and how to treat the specific physical health problems that can threaten the lives of eating disorder patients. You can read a full summary of the FREED Act here, along with some background and history here.
[Fun fact: the idea behind FREED, the elimination of eating disorders, was also the inspiration for my blog title!]
The EDC wouldn’t exist if not for the tireless work of the advocates who make up the organization. Spring 2013 marks the first event under the leadership of new EDC President Johanna S. Kandel, author of Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder. A common statement from first-time advocates is often: “What difference does my being here make?”
Well, Johanna came to Capitol Hill ten years ago to lobby with the EDC and got a meeting with her Congressional Representative, Ted Deutch. Their meeting educated him about eating disorders and their severity, as well as putting a human face on them. We can quote statistics all day long, but sometimes a personal testimony says more than amount of data.
Now in 2013, Representative Deutch is championing the FREED Act in the House of Representatives and has made eating disorders a priority during this Congressional session – and it’s all because of Johanna’s hard work and advocacy.
I also want to say thanks to the offices that took the time to meet with the Virginia Team: Senator Mark Warner, Senator Tim Kaine, Representative Bobby Scott, and Representative Morgan Griffith. Virginia is already a leader on eating disorders with HB1406 establishing screenings in public schools, and I’m looking forward to Virginia carrying the torch and seeing our Congressional reps take up the cause!
Our next Lobby Day is September 18, 2013. Even if you can’t make it to DC, there are plenty of ways you can make a difference and advocate for FREED! Consider doing the following:
- contact the local offices for your Congressional Representatives in your district to meet with them and/or their staff
- write letters to their offices and share your own stories about how eating disorders have affected your lives, asking them to support FREED
- donate to the EDC to support their ability to advocate on Capitol Hill, or hold a fundraiser of your own
Shout-out t0 Kari Adams of The Kari Adams Show for making the trip to DC and cover the policy side of eating disorders! Below is an interview she did with Gail Schoenbach, the Executive Director of the F.R.E.E.D. Foundation and current EDC Treasurer, along with some other pictures from Lobby Day!
Full photo sets available on the EDC Facebook page. Videos from the briefing will be made online shortly. For past Lobby Day coverage and testimonials, click here to search for all posts tagged ‘FREED’.
So what are you waiting for? Come join us in Washington, DC and help us END eating disorders!