EDC GOALS, POLICY PRIORTIES,
With more focused attention on educating and working with Congress,
we can effectively influence federal policy. Our specific goals are to:
How We are Reaching Our Goals:
We are working to promote policies that eliminate the problems faced by people with eating disorders, and that may prevent further people from developing eating disorders.
Educating members of Congress
We will create educational materials and briefing sheets that summarize the problems with and research related to eating disorders, and meet with Members of Congress and federal agencies. We are creating a Family Action Council where a family from each state and the District of Columbia will advocate for improved policies.
We have conducted and are currently organizing Congressional events to bring increased attention to and awareness of eating disorders as a policy issue. Our first such event was a Congressional briefing titled "Fighting for treatment, fighting for life."
Surveying past and current efforts
We have collected data and written summary reports on what federal agencies and Congress have done to address the problem of eating disorders.
Using Social Media
Our Policy Priorities:
We have identified the following federal policy priorities:
- Increase resources for research,
education, prevention, and improved training
- Promote improved access to
- Promote national awareness
efforts that demonstrate eating disorders are a public health
- Promote initiatives that support the healthy development of children
The EDC Has Directly Influenced Legislation
*Improved existing bills.
a. Got eating disorders included into the IMPACT Act (an obesity bill)
b. Added a research component to the Eating Disorders Awareness, Prevention, and Education Act
*Introduced new bills.
a. The first comprehensive eating disorder bill in the history of Congress addresses education, research and treatment! The Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act
b. House Resolution 531 (encouraged increased public awareness of eating disorders) (in 2004)
c. Promoting Healthy Eating Behaviors in Youth Act with Hilary Clinton (in 2002)
* Helped pass one bill into law: mental health parity.
The EDC was one of the few organizations that held out for a stronger version of the bill. Other groups capitulated to pressure from the Senate to support a weaker version. The EDC lobbied hard and was in part responsible for a stronger version of the parity bill. EDC board member testified at a Congressional hearing and spoke at a press conference.
*Increased support for the FREED Act so that it may get a hearing and eventually pass.
The FREED Act was first introduced in the 111th Congress in 2009. We had 51 House Members sign on as cosponsors with bipartisan support. We had 7 sign onto the Senate version. We have the most powerful Member of the HELP committee as the lead sponsor of the FREED Act – Senator Harkin. In the House the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Eating Disorders, Congresswoman Nita Lowey is a cosponsor of the bill.
EDC Influenced Policy Behind the scenes
*Succeeded in getting language into a Senate FY 2013 funding bill for federally financed health research that urges National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand, intensify, and coordinate its research on eating disorders and to examine the possibility of creating collaborative consortia on eating disorders research. This initiative holds out the prospect of attaining two key EDC goals: the first is greater attention to and the coordination of eating disorders research across nine NIH who possess active research portfolios in this area; the second is increased support for federal Centers of Excellence in eating disorders research at academic medical centers and universities in the United States.
*Succeeded in getting language into the Labor HHS Spending bill that required the CDC to calculate mortality rates for eating disorders. This resulted in data being published online and EDC researchers meeting with CDC to address the problems with getting accurate mortality data.
*Succeeded in getting language into the House report of the mental health parity bill that would have defined mental health in a way that clearly included eating disorders. This language did not make it into the final version of the bill, which passed the Senate (in part because parity was added as an amendment to a bill that was moving through the Senate).
*EDC worked with a Member of Congress to write a Congressional sign-on letter urging Michelle Obama’s "Let's Move" campaign to expand it's message to also address eating disorders. 35 Members of Congress signed onto the letter. Additionally, we garnered the support of 29 organizations.
EDC Influenced Federal Agencies
*Used our Congressional connections to have Members of Congress communicate with stakeholders at HHS that eating disorders need to be a key part of the essential health benefits. Senator Harkin, Congressman Kennedy and Congresswoman Baldwin each wrote a letter or had a conversation with Secretary Sebelius to communicate this message.
*Communicated with HHS directly recommending that eating disorders be specifically included, that residential care be included and that medical necessity be defined broadly in the essential health benefits (EHB).
*Had more than 200 advocates write HHS urging the same.
*Met with key officials of HHS communicating our message.
*Worked in coalition with more than 100 other mental health organizations – (the Whole Health Coalition) urging HHS to include residential treatment in EHB.
*Worked with HHS to communicate to people about the pre-existing conditions insurance plans (PCIPs) and made sure both eating disorders and residential treatment were included in the PCIPs.
Increased visibility of eating disorders through grassroots advocacy and direct influence
* Visited every Congressional office (535!) for a number of years
* Held two briefings a year since 2000– educating Members of Congress and staff about eating disorders. Many topics focused on access to care, and the limitations.
*Since 2000, we brought advocates from across the country together to advocate for eating disorder policies. Every lobby day has brought between 50 and 100 advocates and we have had more than 1000 people come to DC to raise the visibility of eating disorders. Through our regular action alerts we have had thousands of constituents contact Members of Congress on eating disorders relevant policies.
*We have drawn the support of key legislators such as Senators Paul Wellstone, Hillary Clinton, Tom Harkin, Lautenberg, Franken, and House Members Kennedy, Ramstad, Baldwin, DeGette, Moran, and others.