In this series, Eating Disorder Hope Founder, Jacquelyn Ekern, interviews Chase Banister of the Eating Disorders Coalition to discuss the work they have been doing.
In Part 2 of this 4-part interview with Eating Disorders Coalition Board of Directors President, Chase Banister, he discusses upcoming Advocacy Day and how they have adapted this important work to COVID-19 precautions.
Eating Disorder Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill
CB: In about a week’s time, we will have our annual Advocacy Day. For about the last 20 years, Advocacy Day has been in-person at Capitol Hill. People would have meetings with members of Congress and the Senate as well as their staff members.
These providers, clinicians, and researchers would tell stories, and share lived experiences, and get to know them. We have team leaders that talk to them about policy ideas and pitches that we want to frame the forward discussion on eating disorders and do our part to nail-down eating disorders as a Federal mental health priority.
I think a lot about how much my feet hurt when we do this because it is a lot of walking around Capitol Hill. A saying that is attributed to the marchers in the Civil Rights era is that “my feet are tired, but my soul is at rest,” and I find that to be true every time I engage in Advocacy Day.
This year, we can’t march the halls, and our executive team was very worried about this. Similar to therapy, having that in-person touch is valuable and needed, and I worried that this was not going to go well this year and that we wouldn’t get anybody interested in registering.
I always say that I reserve the right to be wrong, and in this circumstance, I was wrong. I learned from our wonderful policy team at Center Roads Solutions, led by Katrina Velasquez and her team Alison, Luke, and others who live in Washington, DC, that there was a way that we could do this using technology.
We formulated a plan to be on Zoom groups of about 5 or 6, and each team will do 5 to 8 meetings that we have scheduled for them to be “face-to-face” with our elected leaders and their senior staff.
I underestimated us and am happy to say that we have far more registrants this year than we have ever had. We have over 200 people already signed up and a handful still trickling in as well as hundreds of meetings that have been set up.
Even people from the West Coast who, before this technology and this current season of our nation, would have found it difficult to fly over, can engage in this. There is so much energy and enthusiasm and excitement around it.
In these meetings, a big thing we will be talking about is the Nutrition Care Act that is making sure that individuals on Medicare are able to receive nutrition counseling and have that covered. You would think that for individuals that are disabled or 65 and older on Medicare, nutrition visits would be covered.
They are covered for those with renal disease, chronic renal impairment, and people with diabetes. These individuals get a standard amount of what we call “Medical Nutrition Therapy.” For those with eating disorders, they are not covered, and it has to come out of their own pockets.
We consider the 4 Pillars of Mental Health Care to be Therapy, Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Nutrition/Dietetics and believe it really does take a village of providers in order to offer the most quality care.
Missing any one of those pillars makes recovery far more difficult and much more unstable. As such, it didn’t make any sense to us that there is no provision in the law to allow folks with Medicare to receive nutrition/dietitian visits and have these covered.
The bill we are proposing allows for this to be covered. We have wonderful leads in the House and Senate and, with any bill we propose, we push them as bipartisan because eating disorders are not a partisan issue. There is no side here except the side against these lethal illnesses.
Virtual interview with Chase Banister of the Eating Disorders Coalition conducted by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, – Founder & President of Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope on October 28, 2020.
About the Transcriber:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published December 30, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on December 30, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC