4/27/2010 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced legislation today aimed at fighting and preventing eating disorders in the United States. The Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act is the first comprehensive legislative effort introduced in the Senate to confront the seriousness of these diseases and to jump start research as well as improve the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. It expands federal research, improves tracking and recording of the actual numbers of people suffering and dying from these diseases, provides training for a wide array of health professionals and educators to better identify and screen for eating disorders, creates a new patient advocacy program to help patients get proper care, authorizes grants for eating disorder prevention programs and builds on the mental health parity and health care reform bills to improve access to treatment, particularly for teens covered by Medicaid.
To confront the growing issue of eating disorders, the FREED Act will:
* Expand research on the prevention of and effective treatment of eating disorders: Coordinates research on eating disorders at the National Institutes of Health and across the federal government, and creates research consortia to examine the causes and consequences of eating disorders, and to develop effective prevention and intervention programs.
* Improve the training and education of health care providers and educators: Authorizes grants to medical, nursing, social work and other health professions schools to train health care providers in the identification and treatment of eating disorders, and grants to train teachers and other educators in effective eating disorder prevention, detection and assistance strategies.
* Improve surveillance and data collection systems for tracking the prevalence and severity of eating disorders: Tasks CDC with addressing the lack of accurate information on the incidence and severity of eating disorders. Requires the development of new methods to accurately collect, analyze and report epidemiological data to ensure that the incidence of eating disorders and related fatalities are better understood.
* Prevent eating disorders: Authorizes grants to develop evidence-based prevention programs and promote healthy eating behaviors and in schools, recreational sports programs and athletic training programs.
* Build on existing reform efforts to ensure that treatment is available and affordable: Creates a patient advocacy program to aid people suffering from these diseases and their families negotiate the health care system. Incentivizes states to ensure that adolescents covered by Medicaid are diagnosed and treated.