New eating disorder legislation seeks to hold insurance companies accountable

GRAY DC

POSTED: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 --- 6:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – The fight against eating disorders has made its way to the steps of Capitol Hill. Over the next few days, mothers of children battling the disease and those who have lost children will be lobbying Congress for better legislation to help their sick children.

Right now, many doctors are not properly trained to assess eating disorders and are missing early warning signs that could lead to a life saving diagnosis. Dr. Ann Contrucci is a pediatrician and says she wasn’t taught anything in medical school relating to eating disorders. Now as a mother of a teenager battling the illness, she says more needs to be done.

“This is not like just go eat a cheeseburger that’s not what its about at all. It’s a whole lot more complex than that. It’s the most horrific disease I’ve come across,” she said.

Contrucci is joining other moms to ask Congress to educate doctors but also to educate the insurance companies. Many insurance companies don’t recognize eating disorders as a true illness and therefore fail to cover life saving treatment.

Kitty Westin’s daughter battled an eating disorder for half a decade before taking her own life. The family’s openness about Anna’s battle and their battle with the insurance companies over her treatment has made Anna the namesake of the legislation.

“Frustrated is a really nice word for what I was feeling at the time,” Westin said. “Just when I should have put every ounce of my energy into my daughter and helping her recover, I’m fighting with my insurance company.”

While Westin is humbled by the recognition of her personal fight, it was a battle she thought Anna would be fighting with her.

“I mean it’s named after my dead daughter. I would much rather have it not named after my dead daughter. You know?”

Eating disorders are the most lethal psychiatric disorder and are often associated with other illnesses such as compulsive disorders, anxiety and depression.