Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eating Disorders Coalition Applauds the House for Approving the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962)!

The Eating Disorders Coalition applauds the U.S. House of Representatives who, in an historic vote that lasted late into the night on Saturday, November 7, 2009, approved the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962)!

We extend our deepest gratitude to all 220 Members of the House who voted "Aye" on HR 3962. And we offer specific thanks to our champion of the FREED Act (HR 1193), Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and his health legislative staff, who tirelessly dedicated their energy and expertise to ensure the inclusion of Mental Health and Substance Abuse language within the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

One key aspect of HR 3962 that specifically relates to all those impacted by Eating and Body Image Disorders is the extension of mental health parity that was passed into law in 2008. Congressman Kennedy offered these remarks underscoring the significance of the inclusion of Mental Health and Substance Abuse language in this historic Bill (HR 3962): "A key aspect of this legislation that is of particular importance to me is the extension of the mental health parity protections established into law last year by my legislation, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Not only are these protections extended to all plans in the Health Insurance Exchange, but mental health and substance use benefits are a part of the essential benefits package created by this legislation. For 67% of adults and 80% of children needing mental health care that do not receive it, this victory cannot be understated. I commend my colleagues and my fellow citizens for their leadership in recognizing that the health of the mind truly cannot be separated from the health of the body." The Congressman also voiced his commitment to work with the Senate as they come to the point of introducing healthcare reform legislation, "to ensure that these critical provisions are retained" (in the Senate bill).

Not only did Jeanine Cogan, our Policy Director, work closely with staffers from various offices during the process of healthcare reform being legislated on both sides of the Hill, but so too did many of you join us for our September Lobby Day to advocate for both the FREED Act (HR 1193) and in support of a health care reform bill that included provisions for mental health and substance abuse! Your voices helped increase support for the goals outlined by Congressman Kennedy and his late father, Senator Edward M. Kennedy: to ensure guaranteed coverage for treatment for mental health and substance abuse in the essential benefits package! It was in using your voice on Lobby Day that helped raise awareness with key offices for the need of a healthcare reform bill that would save rather than threaten lives by eliminating coverage denial for pre-existing conditions, eliminate limits of lifetime dollars on what insurers will pay, and also for lowering costs for preventative care and negating rate increases for pre-existing conditions. Perhaps most importantly, your advocacy on Lobby Day helped garner support of a bill that encourages doctors to make health care decisions rather than insurance companies making decisions about what care is necessary!

The fact that we were able to actually get meetings with staffers and Members of Congress during a very healthcare reform focused, and somewhat chaotic time, on the Hill speaks volumes towards underscoring the positive reputation that the Eating Disorders Coalition has established over the past nine years. From meeting with Members of Congress and their staff, building relationships, and continuing to raise awareness of eating disorders through our dedicated advocacy based on our mission statement, we have become the known voice on the Hill on the topic of eating disorders, including in relation to obesity initiatives. We offer our deepest gratitude to each of you who have supported our mission, especially our Lobby Day efforts, and we look forward to continuing our advocacy efforts with you in the future.

While the Affordable Health Care for America Act lends valuable outlines for the treatment of those affected by mental health and substance abuse, there is still work to be done for those impacted by eating and body image disorders. And we need your help to further the FREED Act in both the House and Senate. One very simple step you can take is to join in the forward momentum on the FREED Act by participating in our November Letter Writing Campaign! To find out how you can join in, please go to:

Finally, I want to acknowledge that the next step in healthcare reform does now rest with the Senate. The Eating Disorders Coalition employs hope that both Chambers will come to a timely and the best decision for the millions of Americans who currently live with disparate coverage, unaffordable coverage, or worse, without any health insurance coverage at all. We hold onto the hope that the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy expressed so beautifully in his article published with Newsweek magazine (July 27, 2009), "Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. Senators are entitled to... This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in December…to make sure, as I said, “that we break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.” ~ What an awesome vision!

On that note, I'm off to the Hill to advocate for the FREED Act, filled with hope that we will see the FREED Act passed into law! Afterall, it is the right thing to do!


Your Policy Assistant, Kathleen

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Your voice is needed for our letter writing campaign to be a success: Be One of 100 Constituents to Write their Members of Congress!

Be one of the first 100 constituents to actively support the FREED Act (HR 1193) when you join us in our November Letter-Writing Campaign!

Between Tuesday November 3rd and Tuesday, November 17th, our goal is to have at least 100 constituents write letters to their Members of Congress urging them to sign on as a cosponsor to the FREED Act! This is a simple, yet very powerful and effective opportunity for you to use your voice to support the FREED Act. We have had Members of Congress sign onto the FREED Act because of receiving one letter from a constituent --your voice CAN make a difference!

We've outlined the "how to's" below for your convenience. We encourage you to follow the letter format below, but also encourage you to tailor it so that it speaks from your specific connection to Eating Disorders.

Thank you for your support in our November Letter-Writing Campaign! We could not do this without your voice, passion, and commitment to the cause!

...from the Hill,
Jeanine Cogan, Policy Director
Kathleen MacDonald, Policy Assistant


Find Out, "Who Is My Representative?"

Use this link to find your Representative's information:

Before you send a letter, FIRST you need to check to see if your Representative is already signed on to the FREED Act (HR 1193) as a co-sponsor! We currently have 25 co-sponsors (listed below). If your Representative is already signed on, you are more than welcome to (and encouraged to) modify the letter into a Thank You letter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kathleen:

Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 6/11/2009
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 2/26/2009
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 6/9/2009
Rep Carnahan, Russ [MO-3] - 5/12/2009
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 10/8/2009
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 7/22/2009
Rep Connolly, Gerald E. "Gerry" [VA-11] - 4/29/2009
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 5/21/2009
Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] - 2/25/2009
Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 5/5/2009
Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5] - 9/25/2009
Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] - 4/2/2009
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 9/8/2009
Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] - 6/3/2009
Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 9/14/2009
Rep LaTourette, Steven C. [OH-14] - 4/30/2009
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 9/25/2009
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 6/3/2009
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 4/21/2009
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 6/9/2009
Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] - 5/20/2009
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 4/30/2009
Rep Schauer, Mark H. [MI-7] - 10/14/2009
Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] - 10/7/2009
Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 3/9/2009

Find Out, "To Whom Do I Send My Letter?"

Use the contact information posted on your representatives' website. Most offices allow you to email your letter directly from their website. Cut and paste your adapted letter from below into their email. Then send. Third:Compose Your Letter Using the Sample Letter Below as a Guide AND make sure to "cc" on your email: AND

Make sure to address your letter appropriately by writing it to either Congresswoman or Congressman depending on who she or he is.


Your Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip
telephone number and email address


The Honorable First Name Last Name (Your Representative)
Address of Office (ie: 104 Longworth House Office Building)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman/Congresswoman____________ (last name in the blank)

As a member of the Eating Disorders Coalition and as a constituent of your district who has personally been impacted by eating disorders, I am writing today to ask you to cosponsor the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act, (the FREED Act, H.R. 1193). The FREED Act is the first comprehensive eating disorders bill in the history of Congress. The bill focuses on research, treatment, education and prevention of eating disorders and serves as a beacon of hope for the millions of people in our country currently suffering from binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS).

At lowest estimate, 9 million American women and 1 million American men suffer from anorexia, bulimia, and EDNOS. It is estimated that between 2-5% of the American population suffers with binge eating disorder. Eating disorders affect every single system of the body and are associated with serious medical complications including cardiac arrhythmia, cognitive impairment, osteoporosis, infertility, heart failure and death. In fact, left untreated anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of all mental disorders, at upwards of 20%. However, when a person suffering from anorexia receives proper treatment, the death rate falls to between just 2-3%.
Research demonstrates that eating disorders CAN be successfully overcome when early detection and adequate and appropriate treatment take place. Unfortunately, at this point in time, eating disorders are all too often undiagnosed or completely misdiagnosed by health professionals, and access to treatment is limited. Less than 1/2 of all people with eating disorders receive the treatment they both need and deserve.

The FREED Act will save lives by providing for better access to proper treatment, research dollars to better understand the etiology and effective treatment of eating disorders, grant programs to ensure more medical health professionals and school personnel be trained on eating disorders prevention and treatment, as well as PSA's to broaden awareness of eating disorders.
Currently the FREED Act has bipartisan support with 25 cosponors. I want to urge you to also sign on as a cosponsor of the FREED Act (HR 1193) today. The FREED Act would have significantly changed my life and could have saved thousands of lives before now. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Warm regards,

(Your Name)