The Eating Disorders Coalition advances the recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority throughout the United States. There are two main avenues for addressing eating disorders policies at the federal level. The first is to incorporate eating disorders into already existing and moving initiatives. The second avenue is to help define the Congressional agenda by advocating for the drafting and introduction of new bills that improve the lives of people who are affected by eating disorders.
The EDC used this latter avenue to work with leaders in both the House and Senate to introduce the bipartisan Anna Westin Act of 2015 (H.R. 2515; S. 1865). For details about the introductions of the Anna Westin Act, please refer to the EDC’s press releases.
About the Anna Westin Act of 2015
The Anna Westin Act, designed to have a zero or almost zero CBO score, was written to help those affected by eating disorders get the care they need by focusing on improved training and clarity of parity. In addition, the House version of the Anna Westin Act aims to promote truth in advertising and shed light on the harmful effects of altered body images in advertisements:
Training: The Anna Westin Act aims to help prevent eating disorders by using existing NIMH and SAMHSA funds to provide training for health professionals and school personnel to learn to identify eating disorders and intervene early when precursory symptoms and behaviors arise.
Clarity of Parity: The Anna Westin Act also aims to provide better treatment coverage for those affected by eating disorders by clarifying the congressional intent to include residential treatment in the implementation of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, affording the same protections as other illnesses and thereby decreasing out-of-pocket costs.
Truth in Advertising: The House bill (H.R. 2515) requires the Federal Trade Commission to study and report on whether regulation is needed for digitally altered images of people in advertising and if so, strategies to achieve regulation.
ANNA WESTIN ACT PROVISIONS PASS CONGRESS and are signed into law
Provisions from the Anna Westin Act were included in comprehensive mental health reform bills, Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) and the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680). HR 2646 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 422-2 in July 2016.
In a final push to pass mental health reform and eating disorders legislation in 2016, EDC signed-on to a letter of support for mental health reform and submitted an additional letter to House leaders on behalf of eating disorders organizations and treatment centers across the U.S. The EDC also submitted a letter to Senate leadership.
On December 7, 2016, the Senate passed mental health reform and the 21st Century Cures Act, including eating disorders provisions from the Anna Westin Act, by a vote of 94 to 5, marking the first time that Congress passed legislation specifically designed to help people with eating disorders.
The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 13, 2016.
Beginning the rulemaking process
The eating disorders provisions passed in the 21st Century Cures Act will provide for better eating disorders treatment coverage, trainings for health professionals, and public information on eating disorders. The EDC is currently advocating for Secretary Price to begin the rulemaking process to implement the eating disorders provisions passed by Congress.
OTHER CURRENT POLICY EFFORTS
Ensuring a smooth transition during the repeal and replace of the affordable care act
Research Funding for Eating Disorders under the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP)
The EDC is concerned about eating disorders within the military and the lack of funding for eating disorders research. Nearly 30% of female cadets and 34% of active duty females score at-risk for an eating disorder across all branches of the military - with a very low number of those seeking treatment. The EDC has requested that eating disorders be eligible for research funding under the PRMRP and be considered for the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Defense Appropriations bill.
Letters requesting eating disorders inclusion for specific Department of Defense research programs have been submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Committee on Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. Read the EDC's press release on the requests to the Committee.
WHITE HOUSE MENTAL HEALTH PARITY TASK FORCE
The EDC is also proud to support -