Why We Need Anna's Law

Posted By Rachel Teicher || 21-May-2015

It is excruciatingly painful to remember how much she suffered and how helpless we felt when we were fighting for her life at the same time we were fighting her insurance company. The pain of having a child die does not go away. It does become bearable over time and I have found a way to live without Anna much like people find a way to live without a limb. ~Kitty Westin

No parent should ever have to experience the devastating effect that insurance barriers can place on eating disorder recovery. Ever. To lose a life to an eating disorder - while sincerely seeking treatment and recovery - is an unbearable thought. Fighting for your life (or your loved one's life) while also fighting your insurance company is one of the most offensive and horrendous roadblocks to eating disorder recovery. It is utterly tragic that Kitty Westin had to experience this deep pain and sorrow as her daughter Anna's young life was cut short. It seems unreasonable that her life was lost to a disease that can be treated effectively when given access to the appropriate level of treatment. Eating disorders are treatable diseases, and access to treatment should never be delayed, obstructed, or denied.

Unfortunately, these types of injustices happen all the time, despite laws set into place to protect insureds and those suffering with mental illness. With great courage, Kitty and her family turned their grief and loss into movement and advocacy for change. In hopes of preventing others from suffering from the same insurance difficulties that contributed to their daughter's death, the Westin's began their work towards creating "The Anna Westin Act of 2015" (Anna's Law)." This selfless advocacy is not about Kitty, or even about Anna, but about the millions of people who suffer from eating disorders who are not identified, diagnosed, or treated effectively.

Just last week, with the help of the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy and Action (EDC) and EDC advocates from across the country, Anna's Law was introduced on the hill during EDC National Lobby Day. For the first time in over a decade, eating disorder legislation was introduced with bipartisan support-and after ten years of pain and progression, Kitty, along with many steadfast advocates, is finally beginning to see the movement and growth of her efforts.

What is Anna's Law, and why do we need to pass this legislation?

Anna's Law focuses on "The Three T's" --Training, Treatment and Truth in Advertising.

  1. Training includes education and training for primary care physicians, certified health and mental health professionals, public health professionals, school and higher education professionals, public services announcements, clarification of existing law (Anna's Law will aid in implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act of 2008). With proper training, eating disorders will be better understood, and easier to detect, identify, and treat.
  2. Treatment clarifies that the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 includes residential treatment service coverage.
  3. Truth in Advertising means that the Federal Trade Commission must submit a report to Congress that details a strategy in reducing the use of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted. Essentially, if an image is photo shopped or altered, this information must be explicitly exposed to consumers.

For a more detailed explanation of Anna's Law, click here.

To learn more about Anna Westin, click here.

May all of your love,

your joy and pain,

all your fears and desires

lead you to your own promises,

may your dreaming never end

and your voice never die.

~ Anna Westin

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