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The Fight Continues

As we prepare for the 2017 Idaho legislative session, we will continue our work to close the healthcare coverage gap in our state. If you would like to re-read the details from last year’s efforts you can do so here.

With the help of volunteers like you we made real progress during the 2016 session and we are prepared to continue this important fight in 2017.

During this interim period between sessions a bi-partisan work group has been appointed by the Speaker of the House to continue working on this issue to find resolution for the Idahoans without health insurance. Lawmakers don’t all agree on the solution but most agree it is a problem that 78,000 Idahoans don’t have access to affordable healthcare.

There have been work group meetings on the issue and we have been at each and every one of them fighting for our fellow Idahoans. The next Health Care Alternatives Workgroup meeting is September 28th at the Idaho Statehouse. This will be the first meeting where they will be taking public comment, and if you are interested in speaking to the committee, this is your opportunity to have your voice heard. If you are not in the area, or unavailable to attend the meeting, please sign the petition in support of closing the gap, or send an email to your Legislators, if you haven’t done so already. Your representatives need to hear from you; every voice matters.

While the next legislative session doesn't begin until January, it is crucial that lawmakers know that their constituents are thinking about this issue now, and that they want to see the healthcare coverage gap closed. If you have a story you would like to share or are interested in coming to the Capitol for a future hearing please contact Erin Bennett.

With your help we hope that the 2017 legislative session will be the one where we secure access to affordable health care for the 78,000 hard working Idahoans who earn too much to enroll in traditional Medicaid but too little to qualify for assistance on Idaho’s insurance exchange. A full healthcare solution is better for all Idahoans.

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August Recess Highlights

August Recess is officially over for 2016!  We are highlighting our meeting with Congressman Erik Paulsen of District 3. 

AHA Volunteer and Survivor Gerry Yumul, lead the meeting by first thanking the Congressman for being a support of the FAST Act.  Gerry asked the Congressman to support Cardiac Rehab, and shared his personal story about how cardiac rehab educated him on nutrition, how to take care of his heart, and how to lead a heart healthy lifestyle!  Just four months after Gerry's surgery, he ran a 5K!

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New Yorkers Attend White House Briefing

On Friday, September 9th, several New York advocates participated in an event sponsored by the White House, titled "Making Health Care Better Series: Cardiovascular Health."  The day-long forum offered an opportunity for volunteers to directly witness the impact of the American Heart Association's mission. 

The group was invited on a special tour of the White House prior to the briefing which provided an exciting glimpse into the history of the Presidency.  You can see many highlights from the tour on the American Heart Association's social media feed by searching with the tag #HeartAtTheWH.

In addition to the tour, the group joined advocates from across the country for a robust overview from our nation's leaders in heart disease and stroke prevention, care and treatment.  Presenters included Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director of NHLBI, Dr. Nancy Lee, Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Shari Ling, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Debra Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative. 

The New York delegation was also briefed by national leadership from several organizations who have a vested interest in our mission against heart disease and stroke.  The American Heart Association's own CEO, Nancy Brown, presented on the progress made so far in the effort to promote health across the country.  She was joined by executives from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, YMCA USA, WomenHeart, the Horizon Foundation and Emory University.

With all of these impressive leaders in one room, perhaps the most impactful presentation was from a panel of heart disease and stroke survivors.  These personal stories of survival were at once inspiring and motivating.  While we have come a long way in our mission, there is still a lot of work to be done.

We are grateful for the many volunteers that attended from across the country. New York was well represented by:

* Annette Adamczak - Volunteer Advocate and one of New York's Premier Voices in Support of CPR & AED Training

* Dr. Mitchell Elkind - Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, Fellowships Director, Department of Neurology, Columbia University

* Liz Elting - CEO, TransPerfect and New York City Go Red For Women Leader

* Janice Hall - Senior Vice President, Global Sales Capability at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and NYC Go Red For Women Corporate Chair

* William LaForte - Real Estate Attorney, Trevett Cristo Salzer & Andolina P.C. and Chair-Elect of the Founders Affiliate Board of Directors

* Wendy Mono - Volunteer Advocate and Chair Emeritus of the New York City Advocacy Committee

* Dr. Cheryl Pegus - Clinical Professor of Medicine and Population Health, Director, Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation, Associate Chair for Clinical Innovation, NYU School of Medicine                    

* Dr. Stacey Rosen - Vice President, Women's Health, Katz Institute for Women's Health at Northwell Health and NYC Go Red for Women Medical Chair

The American Heart Association is grateful for the support of these wonderful advocates.  We look forward to putting the lessons learned at the White House to good use for all New Yorkers!

Photo Credit: Stu Mono

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Gearing Up for a Busy Fall!

And just like that, summer was over!

We hope that everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing summer vacation. With Fall upon us and the kids’ back to school, we are excited for another busy season full of AHA events. From Heart Walks, to Go Red Luncheons and everything in between, we are anxious to get the ball rolling on important legislative work in advance of the 2017 legislative session and have started to work on various campaigns in preparation.

This year we are working on some of the same budget priorities as last year, including funding for Healthy Food Access Programs, CPR in Schools Implementation, Tobacco Cessation Programs, Hypertension and Obesity Prevention Programs, etc.

Legislatively, we plan to work on Stroke Designation Legislation again, as well as a two new bills: One that hopes to improve Healthy Food in Public Places by changing the vending machine requirements in state owned buildings, and another that would raise the legal purchase age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

It is an exciting time here at the American Heart Association and we look forward to working with all of our advocates to help move the needle on these important public health initiatives! 

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Where in NC is PE?

When my granddaughter started elementary school, she had physical education (PE) class twice per week. At that time, we were disappointed that it wasn't every day. By the time she was in fifth grade, PE was only offered about twice per month. In her words, "How is that enough? I thought we needed PE every day!"

We can do better and now is our chance!

Tell our Public School Leaders to include PE in the state's education accountability plan. 

The federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in 2015 and now every state has to create an accountability plan. ESSA emphasizes a well-rounded education, prioritizing physical and mental health. We need to tell state education leaders PE should be included in NC's plan.

All students should have the opportunity to participate in PE - it not only helps their physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well. Just like my granddaughter, many students in NC do not get the physical education they need. With an ever-growing number of priorities competing for time during the school day, too many of our children have lost what was once a given: access to quality PE.

Will you help me save PE? Take action today!

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Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice - Start with Blueberries and Help with Policy!

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, all I want to do is snack on fresh Vermont blueberries. Yummy! I put a bowl in the front of our fridge, and every time the door is opened, it’s hard for someone in my family not to grab a handful and pop them in their mouth.

That’s a great example of how a family can make the healthy choice the easy choice. Make what’s healthier easier to do than what is not healthy.

There are many organizations getting on board this simple, but effective strategy. And you can too!

Recently, the Vermont Department of Health launched its 3-4-50 campaign. This highlights that three behaviors are responsible for four diseases that cause fifty percent of the deaths in Vermont. Making healthy choices easier, is a big part of VDH’s plan to combat these chronic diseases. Click on their link to find out more ways that you can make the healthy choice the easy choice.

http://healthvermont.gov/prevent/3-4-50/stand.aspx

And make sure you take action on our advocacy issues as well to make healthy choices more accessible to Vermonters. Healthy restaurant kids meals, tobacco prevention funding, raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 and helping to ensure complete streets that are safe for walkers and bicyclists are some of the issues we’ll be addressing when the legislature returns in January. We’re counting on you to help make the healthy choice the easy choice at home, work and in policies for all!

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Katie Towle - Supporting Families and Pushing for Critical Heart Tests for Kids

Katie Towle knows there are two things that can help a child when they are born with a heart defect – a life-saving test that can help detect it, and the support of other families with children who also have heart defects.

Katie helped promote the need for mandatory pulse oximetry testing for newborns at our legislative reception this winter. She’s a big advocate because her son Jack did NOT receive this test when he was born.

Katie said then, “Had this simple, painless test been done upon birth, we may have been able to have his repair surgery months earlier and avoided so many hospital stays with over 30 nights cumulatively away from our older child, our home and our jobs. Due to the delay in his surgery, Jack’s growth was significantly delayed and his physical development fell drastically behind the national standards.”

Katie will be promoting that pulse oximetry be the standard screening adopted when the Vermont Health Department undertakes a rulemaking to require congenital heart defect screening this year.

She also just formed a cardiac kids’ support group of parents and kids with congenital heart defects. We all had a great time attending the Lake Monsters game together this summer! If you have a child with a congenital heart defect, let me know. We’d love to connect you with this wonderful group and we would also love your help in requiring this test for newborns in Vermont. My email is tina.zuk@heart.org.

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Information: The Most Valuable Player

Fall is the perfect time of year to learn more about your elected officials.  November 8, election day will help shape the course for our communities, state and nation for the next several years.  We encourage everyone to vote. 

We are often asked about learning more about elected officials and candidates. 

Some of our tips are:

· Google Search – take 10 minutes and simply "google" your elected official or candidate. 

· For current state lawmakers visit the NC General Assembly website. There you can learn what committees your lawmaker serves on, bills they have sponsored and how they have voted.

· For current local officials, you can normally find information on your local government webpage.

· Today most all candidates and lawmakers have their own webpages that tell about them.

· The State Board of Elections website also has information on candidates. 

You may also consider attending local candidate forums.  Normally you can find this information advertised in local papers, local access news stations and by hosting organizations. 

Getting to know the candidates and your elected officials is an important step to being a skillful and effective advocate.  That knowledge helps you gain greater understanding and will result in improving your ability to build a stronger relationship with them.  We challenge you to take ten – take ten minutes and "google" a candidate – see what you can learn.    

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Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are in town this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

 This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Jess Nolan (jess.nolan@heart.org or 952-278-7928) as soon as possible.

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Helping Us Fight the Silent Killer

High blood pressure is called The Silent Killer for a reason.  It has no symptoms, so you may not be aware that it's damaging your arteries, heart and other organs. When left untreated, possible health consequences can include heart disease, heart attack, stroke and congestive heart failure.

But, the sad fact is that too many people have high blood pressure. Currently in Vermont, 31% of adults suffer from high blood pressure. That means 128,688 people! And that number is predicted to climb to more than 174,000 people by 2030 if current obesity trends continue.

That’s why we’re excited by an effort by one of our Vermont partners, the YMCA, to treat high blood pressure. The Y’s Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program helps adults with hypertension to lower and manage their blood pressure. With the help of a Healthy Heart Ambassador, the four month program focuses on regulated home self-monitoring of a person’s blood pressure and the participant is provided with individualized consultations and nutrition education for better blood pressure management.

The program will include nutrition education seminars each month that focus on dietary approaches to reducing hypertension, reducing sodium intake, shopping, cooking and food preparation, and eating for your heart.

A really neat bonus to the program in our area is a 30 day family membership at the Greater Burlington YMCA. Find out more and see if you're eligible by contacting Kristin Magnant at kmagnant@gbymca.org or at (802) 652-8196 .

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