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Calling All You're the Cure Superheroes!

Calling all You’re the Cure SUPERHEORES! (Yes, that means YOU!)

Forget Captain America and Wonder Woman.  When it comes to fighting heart disease and stroke, You’re the Cure advocates are the superheroes we’ll choose to have on our side every time!  That’s because no super powers or special gadgets can ever amount to the power of thousands of dedicated people who give their time and share their stories to bring about positive change.    

Wondering if the contacts you make to our nation’s lawmakers really qualify you for superhero status?  Just think about this... Everyday, heart & stroke patients are benefiting from life-saving research you supported.  Everyday, students are eating healthier meals in schools because of you.  Everyday, people have access to AEDs in more public places because you pushed for change.  And everyday, our neighbors are breathing smoke-free air because you cared enough to speak-up.  Because of you, we are saving lives and helping more Americans live healthier- and in our book, that makes you a superhero! 

Later this month is National Superhero Day (April 28th) and rather than celebrate fictional characters from comic books and action movies, we want to celebrate YOU!  So, we’re asking ALL of our You’re the Cure advocates to share a picture, showing us your best superhero pose.  Or you can share a picture of the special heart or stroke superhero in your life who inspires you to be an advocate. 

It’s easy to join in the fun!  Just snap a picture of yourself giving us your best superhero pose (bonus points for creativity!) and share the picture on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using the hashtag #ytcHero.  Throughout the month, we’ll share some of great pictures on our social media accounts to showcase our powerful You’re the Cure community.     

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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7 Million Enrolled: An Affordable Care Act Update

Accessible, affordable health care is critical to preventing and treating heart disease and stroke.  That makes the progress made during this first 6-month open enrollment period of the Health Insurance Marketplace something to recognize.      

When open enrollment closed on March 31st, 7.5 million Americans had enrolled in a health care plan according to the Department of Health and Human Services.  In addition, millions of Americans were able to gain coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Medicaid expansion that took place in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

Even with open-enrollment closed, there are still some lingering questions consumers may have and we’re here to help:

What if I tried to enroll by March 31, but didn’t finish in time?

If you tried to enroll in health coverage through the Marketplace by March 31 but didn’t finish on time, you may still be able to get 2014 coverage- but you need to act quickly.  You must finish your enrollment by April 15 to get coverage for 2014. If you enroll by April 15, your coverage will begin May 1.  Learn more here.

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When is the next open enrollment period? 

It’s not too early to think about your next opportunity to gain or alter your coverage. The next enrollment period will begin on November 15th, 2014 and end on February 15th, 2015.  You can sign-up for email updates at www.healthcare.gov.  This will, once again, be a critical time to help educate the millions of Americans who remain uninsured about their health care options and help them enroll in a plan that meets their needs and budget. 

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Are there any exceptions to the open enrollment period deadlines? 

There are ‘qualifying life events’ that enable you to buy coverage outside of the standard enrollment period, such as:

  • Having a baby or adopting, or
  • Getting married or divorced, or
  • Moving to a new state, or
  • Losing your employer based coverage.

Additionally, those who qualify can apply for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid at any point in the year.  There is no open enrollment period for these programs.  Also, if you own or operate a small business, you can begin offering coverage to your employees at any time.   

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Time is Running Out to Get Covered

Having quality health care coverage is critical to preventing and treating heart disease and stroke.  That’s why we want to make sure everyone knows that the deadline to enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace is March 31st!

Since the Marketplace opened on October 1st, 2013, over 4 million Americans have signed up for a private health insurance plan- and millions more have qualified or re-qualified for Medicaid. 

If you or a loved one is still needs health care coverage, here are some key facts you need to know to enroll in a quality, affordable plan by March 31st:

  • Security and peace-of-mind are just a click or call away.  You can sign up 24 hours a day, 7-days a week at www.HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.  You can even get in-person help in your own community
  • If you don’t enroll by March 31st, you can’t enroll again until November 2014 and may have to pay a penalty.   
  • Concerned you can’t afford a plan? Across the country, 6 out of 10 uninsured Americans can get covered for $100 per month or less.  Financial assistance is available based on your income and family size.  For example, a Dallas family of four earning $50,000/year can get covered for as little as $26 per month.  To learn more, visit www.financialhelpforhealth.org.
  • All plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace must cover 10 ‘essential health benefits’ to ensure quality coverage.   
  • Don’t delay; sign up today!  It is highly recommended not to wait until March 31st to begin this process.  Individuals and families who submit an application by March 15th can have coverage as soon as April 1st

The reality is that we all know someone who still needs to enroll in health care coverage and we can help make sure they know about the March 31st open enrollment deadline.  Here are a couple easy ways you can share the friendly reminder to #GetCovered: 

1)      Join the Department of Health and Human Services’ Thunderclap!  Sign-up for this Twitter event today to be part of the flood of #GetCovered tweets that will be sent on March 17th to help reach millions of people.

2)      Share our new infographic with a friend (or all of your friends!) on Facebook. 






























Share Your Story: Are you one of the millions of Americans who have gained health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace?  Tell us your story in the comments below or by completing our story form

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Action Needed: Last Chance to Stop Therapy Caps

For stroke survivors on Medicare and their families, the countdown to March 31st is like déjà vu.  Year after year, Congress waits until the last minute to pass temporary fixes to the ‘therapy cap’ problem, but this year, we’re saying enough is enough.  Will you join us in telling Congress to stop therapy caps for good? 

Therapy caps are unfair coverage limits placed on the rehabilitation stroke survivors need to recover and thrive following a stroke.  If Congress does not act before March 31st, a typical Medicare beneficiary would face a $1900 cap on their outpatient therapy care, with no exceptions.  On average, that amounts to a single evaluation and just 19 outpatient therapy sessions. However, stroke survivors often need 3-5 therapy sessions a week, which means they’d reach the caps in less than two months.

We feel that stroke survivors’ rehab plans should be decided between them and their health care providers, not by arbitrary limits set in Washington, D.C..  Help us demand better for stroke survivors by sending an email to your legislators today!

With your help, we can end therapy caps and give stroke survivors and their families the peace of mind that the care they need to recover from a stroke will be there for them, without limits.

 

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Our #CHDweek Message: Pulse Ox Saves Lives!

Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) accounts for 27% of infant deaths that are caused by birth defects - the most common birth defect in the U.S.  Early detection is key, which is why advocates across the country are speaking up for a simple, life-saving test for all newborns. 

Pulse oximetry screening is a low-cost, highly-effective, and painless bedside test that can be completed in as little as 45 seconds at less than $4 per baby.  Already this year, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and South Carolina have joined the growing list of nearly 30 states in which all newborns will be screened for CCHD using a pulse ox test.  Most other states are either working to pass legislation this year or are developing rules to carry out previously enacted legislation.  Just within the last couple weeks, New Mexico’s pulse ox bill passed out of the House of Representatives and is on its way to the Senate- and in Virginia, advocates are now urging the governor to sign the state’s pulse ox bill into law! 

If we can save a child’s life, shouldn’t we?  The American Heart Association is proud to work with partner organizations committed to the health of our nation’s littlest hearts – and you can help!  Advocates like you are sending messages, attending lobby days and speaking out across the country.  But our work is not done until every parent can take their baby home from the hospital knowing their heart is healthy.  During Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (February 7th-14th), help us make some noise in support of mandatory pulse ox testing in every state by SHARING the following resources with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers, using the hashtag #CHDweek:

  1. Pulse Ox Valentines: On February 14th, show the love for pulse ox screenings that help identify broken hearts! 
  2. Video: A 45 Second Test That Can Save a Life
  3. AHA CEO Nancy Brown’s Huffington Post article: Too Many Babies Are Born With Heart Defects; Simple Test Helps Diagnosis
  4. Fact Sheet: Precious Information- Pulse Ox Screening for CCHD
  5. AHA Congenital Heart Defects Information & Resources

 We want to hear from you!  Are you or a loved one a CHD survivor?  Tell us your story in the comments below…

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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Advocates Lobby for FIT Kids

Nine remarkable You’re the Cure advocates met Jan. 28th with Members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to request support for the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act. FIT Kids is a bipartisan bill that would help ensure children receive quality physical education at school.

The advocates, a mix of physical education teachers, school administrators, researchers and parents, urged lawmakers to consider the importance of investing in a child’s health and academic achievement through quality, evidence-based physical education. The advocates shared anecdotal evidence and research that shows regular physical education addresses the childhood obesity epidemic and leads to healthier children who behave and learn better in the classroom.

Advocate Kevin Herber, a PE teacher from WI, cited extremely limited budgets and the inability to maintain and replace equipment as a clear demonstration of the need for federal support for physical education programs. After a day of training, advocate Bill Bailey from Alaska offered thanks to the American Heart Association for organizing the event on this important topic. Many of the advocates in DC cited their role as parents as a motivating factor in their passion for this bill.

Advocates across the country showed their support for those in DC, too,  sending more than 4,800 email messages to Capitol Hill in support of the FIT Kids Act, and creating buzz on our You’re the Cure facebook page.

With your help, we will continue to advocate strongly for FIT Kids.  Get started now- take action today! Then comment below to tell us why PE matters to you!

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50th Anniversary

January 11th marks the 50th anniversary of U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry's groundbreaking report on smoking and health, which first made it clear for Americans that smoking causes illness and death.

The American Heart Association is very proud to have played a role in the progress we've seen over the last 50 years. Thanks to the hard work of public health advocates like you, we've seen smoking rates cut in half, a significant reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke, resources made available to help smokers quit and to prevent our kids from picking up the habit.

Despite truly incredible progress in the fight against tobacco use, it remains the leading preventable cause of death in our country, killing 443,000 Americans each year. Clearly, we still have work to do.

The American Heart Association joined other leading public health and medical groups January 8th  to call for a renewed national commitment to ending the tobacco epidemic for good. At a press conference in Washington, DC, the groups laid out three bold new goals.

  • Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18%, to less than 10% within 10 years.
  • Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within 5 years.
  • Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D., said "In the half century that has passed since the landmark 1964 report, the American Heart Association's commitment to protecting the health of all Americans from the scourge of tobacco has never wavered. While we are proud of our accomplishments and the many lives saved, we cannot let our guard down for one minute when it comes to this public health epidemic. We must continue to fight at the federal, state, and local levels until we make America 100 percent tobacco free."

To learn more, check out this article just published in the Journal of the American Heart Association: "The 50th Anniversary of the US Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco: What We've Accomplished and Where We Go From Here"

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Influencing Undecided Lawmakers

What is the best way to convince a Member of Congress to support or oppose legislation important to heart and stroke patients, and who is our best messenger? Is it the request of a professional lobbyist or the voices of their constituents that matters most to those lawmakers?

This second video in our series produced in partnership with the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) gives you a look at the most effective strategies for influencing your undecided Members of Congress. You'll see why your action is so important to our efforts.  

Watch Now! 

(Please visit the site to view this video)

You're the Cure is proud to be part of CMF's Partnership for a More Perfect Union, seeking to improve communications between constituents like YOU and Members of Congress.

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Understanding Your Member of Congress

Have you ever wondered what life is like for a Member of Congress, or if they really consider your opinion when making decisions? Check out our new video below, produced in partnership with the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), that gives you an insider look at Congressional offices and how they work. 

Have you ever asked just how many emails like ours Congressional offices receive each month? The answer- a lot! Which makes it even more important that we understand how Congressional offices work to ensure our messages get through and get noticed.   

Watch Now!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

You're the Cure is proud to be part of CMF's Partnership For A More Perfect Union, seeking to improve communications between constituents like YOU and Members of Congress.

 

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Are You One of the 9 Out of 10?

Did you know that 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium? The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is educating consumers and providing tips to decrease the sodium in your diet. You may be surprised to learn that the greatest amount of sodium in our food comes from food purchased in retail stores, such as supermarkets or convenience stores.


Why should we care about sodium intake? Excess sodium in the diet can increase a person’s risk for high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke. That’s why it’s important to get the facts and spread the word. Check out our infographic to get the facts, and then share via your social networks. Better yet, share the infographic with elected officials and help us educate leaders in your states.

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