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Update: Relief for stroke survivors

I have mixed news to share about our efforts to repeal Medicare’s caps on outpatient therapy services. Late Tuesday night, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that we hoped would include Senators Cardin’s and Vitter’s bipartisan amendment to permanently repeal the therapy caps. Unfortunately, the amendment fell a few votes short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

The good news, however, is that included in the bill is an “exceptions” process that allows patients to continue to be able to access therapy services over and above Medicare’s limits for the next two years. The President is expected to sign the bill in the next couple days.

Even though the bill does not repeal the therapy caps, a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate is now on record in support of the repeal for the first time ever! Moreover, a two-year reprieve is great news for stroke survivors. We could not have achieved this without the hard work of each of you and we should be proud of this accomplishment. And we will continue to fight to repeal the caps once and for all.

Thank you for the actions you take to ensure the priorities of heart and stroke patients are kept in front of our nation’s decision-makers.

You make a difference.

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It's More Important Than Ever

We recently learned that more students are taking part in the National School Breakfast and School Lunch programs than ever before (with more than 30 million of our kids getting school lunches alone). That’s why it’s never been more critical that we protect strong nutrition standards, and make sure we’re serving the healthiest foods possible to students who rely on school cafeterias for up to half of their daily caloric intake.

It’s also one more reason why we need you to step up and make sure those who oppose healthy school meals hear what we have to say. Tell your lawmaker that the stakes are too high to go back – we must protect strong school nutrition standards. With school cafeterias increasingly taking on a greater responsibility when it comes to nourishing students, we need standards in place that ensure the meals they serve include at least one serving of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and less salt.

Healthy meals help prevent childhood obesity, teach good eating habits that will last a lifetime, and boost academic performance.  Please let your representatives know why strong school nutrition standards mean so much to you. In less than a minute, you can make your voice heard and help give our kids the longer, healthier futures they deserve.

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Help Us Send a Wake Up Call

With You’re the Cure on the Hill 2015 fast approaching, we want you to know that you don’t have to be in Washington to make an impact. On May 11th and 12th, we’ll be working with advocates from all 50 states to contact their representatives and urge support for the common-sense, heart-healthy policies we need to reduce and eliminate cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The best part is, all you need to join in is your phone.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be letting you know about a quick, easy, fun way to connect with your lawmakers, friends, and family, and to share why being a You’re the Cure advocates is so important to you. After pledging online to take action, you’ll receive a text message on May 11th with a phone number that will automatically put you in touch with your Member of Congress. After hearing a few key points about why strong school nutrition standards and increased NIH funding are our top priorities, you’ll be patched through to deliver your message personally.

We’ll also be asking you to weigh in on social media, letting your representatives know directly that we’re here to support them on key issues, and hold them accountable when they fall short. The best part is, You’re the Cure advocates from across the country will be visiting congressional offices at the same time, delivering our pro-heart health message in person. We know that with our combined efforts, 2015 will be the best You’re the Cure on the Hill yet. Thanks for your support, and stay tuned for more.

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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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Share Your Story: Sneaky Salt

Sneaky Salt

Become an advocate in our fight against sneaky Salt! Say NO to the higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems linked to too much sodium.

Did you know that most Americans eat more than twice the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of sodium? Chances are, that includes you—even if you rarely pick up the salt shaker. Salt is sneaking up on us—mostly when we go out to restaurants or eat packaged foods. Check out this fun new 1-minute video to see for yourself: http://bit.ly/1trMjLv

This excess salt puts us at risk for elevated blood pressure which means an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Stand up for your health and pledge to reduce your sodium intake today! Take the pledge here: http://bit.ly/1zrYF6R. Don’t stop there…Encourage your family and friends to take the pledge, too.

Want more info? Check out our new website, heart.org/sodium, for a quiz, infographics, recipes and more. Thank you for standing strong against "sneaky Salt!"

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Update on Stroke Therapy Caps

In the last few months, You’re the Cure advocates have spoken loud and clear. Together, we have sent 9,700 messages to Congress urging them to repeal harmful caps on Medicare therapy once-and-for-all.

Much has happened in the last couple weeks, so I wanted to give you an update and let you know that your voice is still needed!

Just recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill that extends the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process for the next two years. If this provision makes it to the President’s desk, Medicare beneficiaries who experience a stroke or other conditions requiring outpatient therapy could rest assured knowing that they would have access to the crucial rehabilitation needed to help in their recovery for two more years.

However, Congress can and should do better. Although temporary relief is better than none at all, we need to keep up the fight for a full repeal!

The bill now moves to the Senate. We are hoping the Senate will amend the bill to repeal the therapy caps once-and-for-all. But we need your help. In order to rally support for this amendment, Senators need to hear from you!

Will you contact your Senators and ask them to support a full repeal of Medicare therapy caps?

 

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Help secure funding for this life-saving AED program today!

This is a critical time in Congress. Lawmakers are deciding on their funding priorities and the next round of budget negotiations are beginning. Even in this difficult economy, there are several federally-funded programs that are vital to the heart community, and we need to let our lawmakers know they must be a priority.

One such program helps buy and place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in rural communities. The program also trains first responders and others in the community to use and operate these devices. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program ensures those who live in rural areas or small towns have access to the tools they need for the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, the program currently only has the resources to operate in 12 states.

Please contact your lawmaker today and ask them to prioritize funding to save lives from cardiac arrest!

People in every state should be given the best shot at surviving a cardiac arrest. Communities with aggressive AED placements have increased survival rates from about 11% to nearly 40%, which is an incredible improvement. But 38 states are still waiting for funds for this life-saving program.

Deadlines in Congress are looming, so please contact your elected officials TODAY!

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Nutrition Across the Nation

With National Nutrition Month underway, we’re excited to launch a new website about an issue that’s close to every parent’s heart: Step Up to the Plate for School Meals. Since Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, our kids are eating more whole grains, being served less salt, and getting the fruits and vegetables they need to excel in the classroom.

Step Up to the Plate features success stories from the more than 93 percent of schools already meeting the new standards, like Anne Frank Elementary in Philadelphia, where Principal Mickey Komins and his staff are committed to helping students make healthy eating a lifelong habit. Our Nutrition Across the Nation map helps you see how your state measures up in terms of the number of students participating in the national school lunch and breakfast programs, and what we can do to help schools serve the most nutritious, delicious meals possible.

Most important of all, Step Up to the Plate makes it easy to contact your lawmakers to tell them why it’s so important that they re-authorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Studies have shown that students consume up to 50 percent of their daily caloric intake at school. Strong nutrition standards help provide a balanced diet that will let students grow and learn in the healthiest way possible. We know that for some kids, the breakfast and lunch they get at school is the only nutritious meal they receive.

At a time when 30 percent of children ages 2-19 years are considered overweight or obese, Congress needs to do whatever it can to ensure we’re fighting this national epidemic. Take action today, share with your friends on social media, and help us spread the word that on school meals, the time to step up is now!

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Tell your lawmaker: Heart and stroke research is a priority!

Imagine if we didn’t know that smoking led to heart disease or stroke. Think about all of the lives lost if we didn’t have AEDs. How many stroke and heart disease survivors would we have if it weren’t for clot-busting drugs?  It’s hard not to take these and other medical milestones for granted. But if it weren't for our investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these breakthroughs might not be here today.

Unfortunately, future discoveries will be in jeopardy if our lawmakers continue to inadequately fund medical research.  Will you contact your lawmaker today and urge them to make NIH heart and stroke research a national priority?

Right now, members of both the U.S. House and Senate are determining their priorities for upcoming appropriation bills. It's crucial that as many lawmakers as possible request a funding increase for the NIH if we hope to discover more lifesaving heart and stroke treatments.

Over the past 10 years, the NIH budget has not kept pace with medical research inflation, resulting in more than a 20% loss in purchasing power. Moreover, NIH continues to invest only 4% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research. This means promising discoveries to save even more lives will be left in the lab room and not in the hands of doctors.

Like me, I am sure you find this unacceptable. But this trend will only change if we stand up and urge our legislators to make NIH a national priority.

Medical breakthroughs do not happen overnight. Each step takes countless hours of research and manpower, trial and error, hope and frustration. But each step is an opportunity to bring a new chance at life to countless Americans across the country. It’s why the work NIH does is so vital, and it’s why the work we do to increase NIH’s funding is so critical. Our nation’s future health depends on it.

Join me and speak up today!

 

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Share Your Story: Abby Snodgrass

Abby Snodgrass Missouri

Abby Snodgrass, a suburban St. Louis high school student, is being credited with saving a baby's life. 

Hillsboro High School student Abby Snodgrass knew what to do when an 11month old child stopped breathing at a Walmart store in High Ridge.

Snodgrass was in a dressing room when she heard an emergency call. She ran out to find a crowd surrounding the infant and panicked mother, but no one was doing anything to save the child. Snodgrass had learned CPR in school a couple of months earlier. She performed chest compressions and the child began breathing again.

High Ridge Fire District Chief Mike Arnhart says the child may not have survived if not for Snodgrass' quick actions.

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