Eating disorder advocates find hope in historic passage

Published: Dec. 8, 2016 at 3:08 PM CST
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"I know, had Anna had that level of care, she would be standing next to me today," Kitty Westin said.

Kitty Westin lost her daughter, Anna, to an eating disorder when she was just 21 years old. Since then, she’s dedicated her time to ensuring others don’t have to suffer the same fate. This week, her work paid off.

Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. In it was the Anna Westin Bill. It improves access to treatment for those battling eating disorders and helps train experts to see the warning signs. For Kitty, it’s a journey that’s taken 17 years.

“It feels like there’s been this heavy burden lifted off my shoulders," Westin added.

Senators like Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Shelley Moore Capitol of West Virginia helped push the bipartisan bill to the finish line. The passage marks the first time in history lawmakers have passed a bill that deals specifically with eating disorders.

"It was surreal, it was surreal," Katrina Velasquez, Policy Director at the Eating Disorders Coalition, said.

Velasquez was sitting next to Mrs. Westin when the bill was passed. She has been lobbying Congress to get this through. She said the 30 million Americans suffering from the disorder can finally have treatment covered by health insurance.

"If you had breast cancer, you would never assume that your health insurance wouldn’t cover it, that’s off your mind. So for people with eating disorders this is the first time that that can finally be off your mind, she added.

President Obama said he’ll sign the bill into law.

"It’s been this very long journey but it’s been a journey of love and I’m so grateful for the people that have been on the journey with me," Westin added.