Yesterday I participated in a tweetchat with the Academy for Eating Disorders and Eating Disorder Coalition to learn more about Lobby Day. Here is a summary of the chat:
What is Lobby Day?
The Eating Disorder Coalition sponsors lobby days at the US Congress twice per year. The next lobby day is in Washington, DC on April 16 and 17. You do not need to be a member of EDC, but members get a reduced rate to participate. To get a feel for what lobby day is like, the fall 2010 EDC lobby day hearing is available on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkWdTgyoj0OZlGp83Sf-49Tb5NyaGzs-C
What issues is the EDC currently addressing?
The EDC is currently working on 2 primary issues: 1) Mental Health Parity (helping make sure people get ED treatment covered at parity) and 2) The FREED Act: http://eatingdisorderscoalition.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-is-freed-act.html.
Previous lobbying by the EDC resulted in Congress directing NIH to release an RFA http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-MH-14-030.html for research studies that use dimensional constructs to integrate biology and behavior in the service of advancing the understanding of biological mechanisms and developmental trajectories of eating disorders.
How can you get involved?
Patients and families can attend lobby day or write letters to their congressman and/or call on Lobby Day to add extra support.
Clinicians can attend lobby day or email mmorris@eatingdisorderscoaliton.
Researchers should apply for the RFA to show NIH that these requests are needed
How does Lobby Day work?
The EDC provides training and then takes you to meetings with your representatives. You get to be a lobbyist for a day! People get to share their personal stories with members of congress. There is a team leader from EDC there to help you. Said one participant, “I confess I was nervous the first time – who was I to lobby? Eek! But all you need is comfy shoes and YOUR story: EDC makes it simple.”
Those who participated in the past described lobby day as empowering and uplifting. “The chance to stand with others and speak our own personal story to people in power is transformative.” It is also a great chance to stand together and make new contacts and friends.
Hold the Date:
If you can’t make it on April 17 hold the date of September 18 for their fall lobby day