On April 12th, 2011, UNC got active once again in their fight against eating disorders. Hitting Capitol Hill, UNC pre-doctoral intern, Cristin Runfola, and post-doctoral fellow, Sara Trace, joined over 100 other eating disorder advocates, lobbying for congress to pass The FREED Act — the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act. The FREED Act, drafted in part by our own Dr. Cindy Bulik, was reintroduced on March 3rd, 2011, and is the first comprehensive eating disorders legislation in the history of Congress that addresses needed action for the research, education, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders. This includes holding insurance companies accountable for the treatment of eating disorders.
UNC team members had successful meetings with the assistants of five Senators and Representatives from North Carolina and Connecticut urging cosponsorship of the bill. The day wrapped up with a POWERFUL Senate congressional briefing that included heart-wrenching stories from parents who lost their child from an eating disorder and a recovered male who struggled to get the treatment he needed. Both stories exemplified the severe impact that lack of insurance coverage, lack of recognition, and improper training and education can have on individuals with eating disorders, their families and the larger community. Messages were strong, loud, and clear and demonstrated clearly why FREED is crucial in the larger context of health care reform. For more information about the EDC Lobby Day see: http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/. Lobby days are held twice yearly and everyone is invited! Patients, families, advocates, clinicians and researchers come together toward one goal. The environment is welcoming and the sense of community and shared purpose is emotional and empowering.