And remember – we call it the good fight not because it is the easy fight but because it is the right fight. – Cleo Wade
Yesterday something big happened. Something huge.
It’s called The 21st Century Cures Act and it has been termed the most significant piece of mental health legislation since 2008. This bill, the first of its kind to be passed in both the House and the Senate, was a long time coming. After more than 15 years of diligent eating disorder advocacy and lobbying, mental health activists can proudly say that this will be the first significant piece of legislation related to eating disorders to become law. In its decision to pass the first-ever eating disorders legislation, Congress made history in backing legislation specifically designed to help people with eating disorders.
It has been said that 30 million Americans will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime, and yesterday those voices were finally heard.
This historic moment in time did not come easily, quickly, or without struggle. It took years and years of energy and determination from people behind the scenes. Everyday people like you and me. People well versed in legislation and lawmaking procedures, and people with no legal background at all. People driven by personal motives, and people simply fulfilling the role of their profession. People inspired by the notion of mental health parity and equality, and people compelled by the tragedy of loss, heartache, and despair. This legislation was born from a band of people fighting the good fight, and it did not come easy.
“A big thank you to the countless warriors who fueled, crusaded, and encouraged this fight. Your collective voices and steady advocacy have created change and given rise to such precious mental health reform,” said Lisa Kantor, founding partner of Kantor & Kantor, LLP. “May this legislation bring comfort to those who have lost loved ones to mental illnesses, strength to those who are currently fighting for access to treatment, and hope to all those affected by mental illness and addiction. My hope is that the passing of this law brings forth more detailed prevention and early detection methods, removes barriers to mental health treatment, and eliminates the many horrific consequences of untreated mental illness.”
The House Amendment to the Senate Amendment of H.R. 34, which includes the 21st Century Cures and Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 along with other health funding authorizations, also includes key pieces from the Anna Westin Act of 2015 (S. 1865 / H.R. 2515). The passing of this legislation means three important things: One, clarification of existing mental health parity law to improve health insurance coverage for eating disorders and life-saving residential treatment. Two, early identification of eating disorders trainings for health professional such as doctors. And three, enhanced information and resources to help early identification of eating disorders by the public.
We send our deepest gratitude to the Eating Disorders Coalition for leading the effort and carefully guiding the legislation (and all of their advocates working behind the scenes), the National Eating Disorders Association (as well as all of their advocates), and Kitty Westin (mother of Anna Westin and board member of the Eating Disorders Coalition) for her incredible journey and labor of love in making and helping to pass this life-saving legislation.
This bill will reach President Barrack Obama’s desk within the week and is expected to be signed into law given the President’s recent support statement.