The best word to describe Lobby Day this year was simply "amazing!" It was so wonderful to see so many new faces from different places around the country using their voices to make a difference. Oh what a difference they made and what a mark they left!
I was thrilled to have 12 representatives from Florida (including myself) on my team. We visited 5 Congressional offices (4 of which were new offices for our team). We had the opportunity to meet and greet with Congressman Robert Wexler, Congressman Ron Klein, Congressman Tom Rooney, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as well as their amazing staffers. The members were really receptive to the FREED act and necessity of having a comprehensive eating disorders bill.
The day concluded with a very moving, emotional, and inspiring congressional briefing. The panelists were simply incredible. Greg Mar, Director of Business Management at Valenta Inc, spoke of abusive tactics, denials, and the impact on patient care and the necessity of care. Bruce Nagel, Nagel Rice, spoke of lessons from his successful class action lawsuit against Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey to cover claims for the treatment of eating disorders. Kathleen MacDonald, EDC Policy Assistant and an inspirational hero of mine, read Kari's story - a mother's account of the sad reality of eating disorders: A daughter dies when insurance fails to cover treatment. I am so appreciative to Kari's mother who was willing to share her daughter's battle with those of us in attendance. Hearing her story gave me even more motivation to keep using my voice. The briefing ended with an inspiring story from Danielle DeVille, an eating disorder survivor who spoke so eloquently about finally getting the treatment she needed and how she is living her life free of an eating disorder. Thank you so much to all four of the panelists!
I sincerely hope to see you all in DC in the Spring for the next Lobby Day. For those of you who have never made the trip to DC, I invite you to join us for an experience of a lifetime. Every time I leave Lobby Day, I am so grateful to be part of such an incredible organization and so motivated to continue to use my voice. I would like to sincerely thank Jeanine, Kathleen, Kitty, David, Nicole, Gail, and the rest of the EDC staff for all their amazing work and helping us be a voice on the hill.
With sincere gratitude,
Johanna Kandel, EDC Junior Board