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Take Action for Corner Stores Today

We would all like the option to make a healthy choice, right?  We need your help now to speak up for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Legislative session is moving fast and the NC House will be debating the state budget next week. It is important that the $1 million appropriation for Healthy Corner Stores is included.

Ask your legislators to fully fund the Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

Over 1.5 million of our North Carolina neighbors live in communities where healthy foods aren’t affordable or accessible. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative can help change that by bringing healthy, local foods into small stores in neighborhoods that need them most.

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. Tell your lawmakers today that you want all North Carolinians to have that right and ask them to include full funding for Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

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They Want to Hear From You!

Even though Connecticut is indeed a small state, it still consists of no fewer than 169 towns and cities. Within those towns and cities are 151 state representatives and 36 state senators, all of whom are re-elected every two years. You are a constituent to one particular state representative and state senator, and their job is to represent you in Hartford. As an advocate of the American Heart Association, it is important that you know who your own legislators are, and just as important that they know who you are. 

To create this relationship requires little of your time and could start as easily as you sending them a short email introducing yourself as a constituent and letting them know about an issue that you are passionate about, such as heart disease, childhood obesity, unhealthy school marketing or tobacco use.  Once you have exchanged an email or two with your legislators, follow it up periodically with a short note, such as wishing them a fun and relaxing summer, luck in their upcoming elections in November, and a happy holidays. This way they will remember your name and when you need a word with them, their door will be open. Remember, they represent you and really do want to hear from their constituents!

To find your legislator go to https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp. You will be asked to pick your town and to enter your street address and will then be provided with a link to their bio’s containing contact information. You can also email me at james.williams@heart.org, and I am happy to help set up and facilitate meetings.

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You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day: Issues At A Glance

State Lobby Day is almost here!  These are the issues that we will be discussing with our lawmakers. 

We will have two asks this year, and have included talking points for each issue below.  We know that State Lobby Day this year will be as successful as all of our other years, and we cannot wait for our advocates to join us!

Ask One: Support HB 250/SB 296: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act with full funding

  • North Carolina has at least 349 food deserts across 80 counties, impacting over 1.5 million North Carolina residents in both rural and urban areas.
  • Communities without access to healthy foods are disproportionately impacted by diet-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
  • Without easy access to healthy ingredients, families have a harder time meeting dietary guidelines for good health, such as eating fruits and vegetables and lowering fat intake.
  • North Carolinians across the state overwhelmingly support this effort: A recent poll found over 70% of registered voters support a state-funded Healthy Corner Store Initiative. After learning more information, support rose to 76%.
  • A healthy corner store initiative would: help make healthier food options more accessible, provide small business owners with marketing and technical assistance to stock and sell healthy foods, and create new markets for farmers and fisherman. 

Ask Two: Support increasing access to health care

  • Heart disease is the second and stroke the fourth leading cause of death in North Carolina.
  • Of adults (aged 18-64) who report having heart disease, hypertension or stroke, approximately 15% are uninsured.
  • Nearly half of the uninsured with cardiovascular disease cite cost as the reason they lack coverage; 36% cite a lost job or new employer.
  • The uninsured also report being unable to afford prescription drugs nearly four times more often than those who are insured (43% versus 11%).
  • Providing health insurance coverage will help people gain access to the care they need, which improves health outcomes.

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MN STEMI System of Care Signed into Law!

On Friday April 29, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law HF2613 – to launch an official Minnesota STEMI System of Care and prioritize the highest quality treatment for anyone who suffers a heart attack, regardless of where they live in Minnesota! The new legislation authorizes the MN Department of Health to designate nationally accredited STEMI Receiving Centers and requires all EMS services in the state to have current triage and transport protocols for STEMI Patients! As a result of this success the state’s 5.4+ million residents, including those 8,000+ individuals who suffer a STEMI each year, will now be covered by a stronger statewide STEMI system of care.

This effort started 3 years ago when AHA MN launched its Mission:Lifeline (M:L) Grant program statewide and has relied on continued involvement from M:L  volunteers the entire way. Our partners in rural hospitals and rural EMS services were critically important to the continued pressure for the state to put policy in place to sustain the work of the M:L program.

Building on the continued success of the MN Stroke System, the MN STEMI legislation keeps the progress moving in MN to make sure that anyone who suffers a time critical medical event can receive the best possible treatment no matter where they are in the great state of MN!!

Pic #1= Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Burnsville), our chief author presents the STEMI Bill on the house floor for final passage.

Pic #2=M:L Chair Richard Mulvain testifies in the MN House HHS Committee on the importance of a STEMI System.

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State Lobby Day: A Day to Remember

We are excited that you are joining us May 10th for the 2016 NC AHA You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day.   To help you feel ready, we want to provide some important information about Lobby Day.

Lobby Day Schedule:

  • Registration check-in will open at 8:30 am at the Legislative Building Auditorium (link to map below). 
  • The training program will begin promptly at 9:00 am and conclude by 10:30 am so that you will be able to visit with your lawmakers. During the training we will go over the day’s events, our "asks" for the day, divide into your Lobby Day meeting groups, and have time to practice with your group. 
  • Lunch will be at the General Assembly Cafeteria in the Legislative Building. 
  • Rest area during the day is in the 1200 Court of the Legislative Building. Here you will find AHA staff, have a place to complete meeting evaluations, and take a break. 
  • All activities will conclude by 3:30 pm. 

What to wear and bring with you:

  • Visiting the legislature is an active day.  So wear comfortable shoes! 
  • Business attire is recommended, and we request that you wear something red. 
  • Also – don’t forget to check the weather – if it is supposed to rain, bring your umbrella! (Our event is rain or shine!)

Visiting the Legislature (Parking and Directions):

Staying in Raleigh:
If you prefer to come to Raleigh the evening before, here are some hotels in the downtown area that are convenient to the Legislature:

  • Marriot City Center: 500 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 833-1120
  • Sheraton: 421 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 834-9900
  • Holiday Inn (least expensive and closest to the Legislative Complex): 320 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27603 - Phone: (919) 832-0501

We know that was a lot of information to digest!  That is why we will wait until next week to send out information about the issues we will be talking with our legislators about.  When that information is up, you will be able to read about it by checking back with us on this post.

If you have questions about the logistical information, please contact Kacie Kennedy for more information.

 

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Governor Haley Signs Lifesaving Hands-On CPR in Schools Bill into Law

Governor Nikki Haley signed House Bill 3265 into law on Thursday, April 21, requiring all South Carolina students to learn hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This essential life skill will be incorporated into the already required high school health education curriculum and will ultimately benefit countless families by increasing the number of people with CPR proficiency.  Far too many people die suddenly from cardiac arrest who might have been saved if only those around them were trained to administer CPR.

Coleman Maness, a young, sudden cardiac arrest survivor and American Heart Association volunteer shared his thoughts. "We have been working so hard on this legislation for the past four years, and it is great to finally see the result of our hard work today. My life was saved by Bailey Barnes who performed bystander CPR, and this bill will ensure that other cardiac arrest victims will have a greater chance at survival." Coleman’s story of survival motivated a close friend, at the time a high school student, Sally Sheppard, to take action by working with a local legislator to have CPR in Schools legislation introduced during the 2012 session.

House Bill 3265 was sponsored by over 20 representatives and passed the House unanimously in 2015. The Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children endorsed the CPR in Schools legislation.

Thank your lawmakers for passing this livesaving measure.

Nearly 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10.4 percent survive, most likely because bystanders simply don’t know what to do. When administered right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR will fill the state with lifesavers, giving sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive making our communities safer and improving South Carolina’s survival rates.

South Carolina becomes the 30th state to require hands-on CPR joining Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia—all of which require CPR be taught to students in middle or high school.

The legislation was endorsed by 14 national and statewide organizations including the American Heart Association, South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs, South Carolina State Firefighters Association, and the South Carolina chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Be sure to send your thank you now.

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Fresh Food for Strong Kids

Why do we need a Healthy Corner Store Initiative?  This week, Valerie King, from Yadkinville, shares her thoughts.

Help us bring healthy foods to all NC communities this year – tell your lawmaker today.

"My little diva was born with a congenital heart defect. She has had 5 open heart surgeries and is the strongest kid I know. As we shuffle about from one after school activity to another, I get upset when I realize I have forgotten any snacks for her. When you live in rural North Carolina there aren’t many options available to stop and pick her up a quick healthy snack.

Her heart disease is something we couldn’t prevent. Now that she is here we want to be able to make sure she fuels her body with what she needs."

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. As legislative session is just around the corner, tell your lawmakers today that healthy food should be accessible in all communities, and ask them to support HB 250, the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act.

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We Want You... To Come To State Lobby Day

Don’t worry!  There is still time to register for NC AHA You're the Cure State Lobby Day on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. But if you haven't already signed up - don't delay! Sign up here.

The event will begin promptly at 9am with an issues overview and advocacy training at the legislative building. The rest of the day will be spent meeting face to face with lawmakers and watching the House and Senate in action. We anticipate the day ending around 3:30pm.

This year, we will be advocating for the following policy initiatives:

  • Passage of the Healthy Corner Store Initiative with full funding.
  • Sharing the vital importance of accessing healthcare.

Register now! It's easy - just click here. Please register by Monday, April 25, as space is limited.

Final event details will be emailed in late April.

If you have any questions, please contact Kacie Kennedy.

We look forward to an exciting day with our advocates!

Sincerely,

Kim Chidester, Sarah Jacobson, & Betsy Vetter
Your North Carolina Advocacy Team

*PS - Want to make your registration easier? On the "detailed information" page, check the box beside the statement "carry forward" and your information will auto-fill on the next page of the registration form.

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Healthcare Expansion - What Almost Was

The 63rd Idaho State Legislature adjourned on March 25th, 2016. This means most legislators will go back to their districts to begin campaigning, and to discuss their accomplishments this session. However, the accomplishments for the session are tempered by the major issue they failed to address – the healthcare coverage gap.

When the 2016 legislative session started, we and our coalition partners had one goal – to get a bill introduced to expand healthcare to the 78,000 Idahoans who fall in the healthcare gap.  Getting a bill printed was something that we had not been able to accomplish in the prior three legislative sessions.

We are proud to say that we got much further this legislative session but sadly we were not able to close the gap this year. Significant movement was made on the issue in an effort to save lives, provide support to struggling families, and save the state millions of dollars. Nonetheless, on the final day of the session, all efforts to begin the process in Idaho were killed on a party line vote in the House.

Several bills were introduced throughout the session to address the healthcare coverage gap including SB 1205, the Healthy Idaho Plan, which allowed Idaho to seek a waiver to implement Medicaid expansion in a way that was unique to the needs of the state through a managed care plan, supported by Medicaid dollars. SB 1205 was heard in committee after a massive constituent turnout on the part of our Close the Gap Coalition efforts.

Story after story was shared about how the healthcare coverage gaps costs our state money and even more tragically costs people their lives. Despite all our efforts as session progressed it looked like we would not be able to close the healthcare coverage gap but then in the last few weeks of session two new bills were introduced on the issue, HCR 63 and HB 644.

HCR 63 would have formed a formal legislative committee to study and make recommendations regarding the gap population, and HB 644, which would have provided $5 million in grants to community health centers and collected data from these programs on the medically underserved gap population.

The final two days of session left us waiting with baited breath after the Senate amended HB 644 so that it would start the process of applying to the federal government for a Medicaid expansion waiver. After HB 644 was amended it was sent back to the House for approval. In the hours between the Senate returning the bill to the House Governor Otter publically supported the bill to start the waiver process.

Sadly on the last day of session and one of the last votes of the year the House voted to kill the bill down party lines. Instead the Speaker of the House has announced he will appoint a legislative committee to study the problem and present recommendations during the 2017 session. Frustratingly this means Idaho tax payers will pay for a fourth study when the first three recommended a full coverage solution like what the Healthy Idaho Plan would have provided.

For those of you who supported our efforts this session and throughout the year, we appreciate your time and support. We have not given up on this important issue. 

If you would like to get involved in our efforts to close the healthcare coverage gap contact Erin Bennett to learn more.

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2016 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

The 2016 Legislative Session has finally come to end and while there are important issues that have yet to be resolved, we can be proud of the efforts we have engaged in and the results we were able to see.

This year the Utah State Legislature made initial steps toward working on Healthcare issues affecting the State by passing House Bill 437 “Health Care Revisions”. This bill had the effect of partially expanding Medicaid coverage for an estimated 17,000 Utahns who currently have no insurance coverage. I’m happy to report that as part of the AHA’s efforts to fully expand Medicaid we were able to work with the bill sponsor and successfully include language in House Bill 3 “Appropriations Adjustments” that ensures that Tobacco Cessation services that meets AHA criteria will be extended to all Medicaid recipients in the state! Your efforts will ensure that all Medicaid recipients will have access to both counseling and all FDA-approved pharmaceutical methods for tobacco cessation at no or minimal cost sharing. These efforts will ensure coverage for those most in need and will further contribute to Utah’s nation-leading low smoking rates!

At our annual lobby day in February, You’re the Cure volunteers from across the state had an opportunity to participate in a full day of activities, including a special bill signing ceremony with the Governor where we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act and honored the individuals who made it all possible those many years ago. After the ceremony our volunteers spoke to their legislators on a number of legislative issues. Conversations between Board Members and legislative leadership surrounding Medicaid Expansion allowed us to begin discussions on enhancements to tobacco cessation services. Although the legislation in question was not a full expansion of Medicaid services as envisioned in the ACA, legislative leadership saw the wisdom in enhancing tobacco cessation services as a means of decreasing tobacco use and more effectively utilizing state resources.

But none of this would have been possible without your help and support! As was highlighted during last month’s blog about the CPR save by the Hurricane Wrestling Team, your advocacy efforts have a direct impact on the lives of our fellow Utahn’s. Whether it’s CPR, Tobacco Cessation, Safe Routes to Schools, or Hospital Stroke Treatment, you are making a difference and helping the AHA to achieve our Mission of saving lives and improving health. Thank you for all you do and do not hesitate to get involved! The next great thing we do could all come down to you!

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