CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On December 28, 2022, the Anna Westin Legacy Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and a bipartisan group of senators, was signed into law by President Joe Biden. This law authorizes the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (the Center), which provides training and technical assistance to health care workers, teachers, and parents on how to identify eating disorders and support patients in recovery. 9% of the U.S. population will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, impacting approximately 158,964 people in West Virginia.

The Center was created in 2018 after provisions from Senators Capito, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Tammy Baldwin’s (D-Wis.) Anna Westin Act were enacted as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.

“I’m glad to see the reauthorization and expansion of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders become reality though my Anna Westin Legacy Act’s signage into law,” Senator Capito said. “The Anna Westin Act has proven to have a profound impact on the millions of Americans experiencing eating disorders. This reauthorization will continue efforts to ensure those who are struggling will not be denied access to the same mental health services as those facing other types of illness. I’m proud to champion this initiative, and help West Virginians maintain access to the support they need when they need it the most.”

The Anna Westin Legacy Act authorizes Center funding at $5 million for each of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 – FY 2027 to:

  • Adapt screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) models for a pediatric population.

  • Expand adaptive in-person and online training modules on eating disorders to reach more frontline professionals.

  • Consult with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) on prevention, identification, and treatment of eating disorders for veterans and military service members.

  • Facilitate integration of SBIRT for eating disorders within electronic health record systems.

This law is named in honor of Anna Westin of Chaska, Minnesota, who was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 16. Despite the urgency of her condition, Anna had to wait until her insurance company “certified” her treatment, ultimately delaying and limiting the treatment she received. After struggling with the disease for five years, Anna died at the age of 21.

The Anna Westin Legacy Act is supported by: the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action, American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy, American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, American Association on Health & Disability, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Group Psychotherapy Association, American Psychological Association, Lakeshore Foundation, Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), Clinical Social Work Association, Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance, Global Alliance for Behavioral Health & Social Justice, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Association of Social Workers, National League for Nursing, REDC Consortium, SMART Recover, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and Mental Health America.

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