Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah

During this Holiday season we often take time to reflect on the past and give thanks for what we have and what we have been able to accomplish. This past year we have had tremendous success here in Utah in working toward our 2020 Goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths by coronary heart disease and stroke by 20% by 2020.

Specifically we were able to make tremendous progress on pulse oximetry screening for newborns and the creation of a stroke hospital registry.

Pulse Oximetry (House Bill 276)

On the second to last day of the 2013 Legislative session the House and Senate voted to pass HB 276 - Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Defects.  Sponsors of the legislation Rep. Paul Ray and Sen. Ralph Okerlund worked long hours throughout the session to garner support for this bill, receiving near unanimous votes in the House and good support in the Senate. 

The AHA led a coalition of groups, including Moms with Heart, Intermountain Healing Hearts and the Utah Department of Health in providing committee testimony and background information.  The AHA recruited unpaid contract lobbyists who worked on making sure that the Utah Hospital Association and the Utah Medical Association agreed with the importance of the legislation.  The Utah AHA|ASA Board of Directors, various volunteers, and our Utah staff all were instrumental in driving conversations with legislators – including YTC volunteer Rebecca Weissinger who got more than 300 members of her small town to sign a petition to their representative and senator asking them to support the legislation. 

Next month keep an eye out for more information on the new Department of Health rules that create Stroke Treatment and Stroke Receiving Centers here in Utah and our annual Legislative Primer. As always, thank you for helping us to save lives here in Utah, and for being part of You’re the Cure!