The following blog post was written by the Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Health Quality, Mark Schoeberl.
One important way the American Heart Association achieves its Mission is by advocating for laws that enable individuals to live healthier lives. It’s part of our commitment to build a “culture of health,” which for our advocacy work translates into supporting common sense public policy that helps make the healthy choice an easy choice and where all Americans benefit from having access to high-quality, affordable health care.
As part of this work, the American Heart Association has in the past twelve months successfully advocated for nearly 70 changes in public policy specifically designed to help Americans enjoy longer, healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. This work is never easy, and the tremendous success we have achieved this past year would simply have not been possible without the support of you, our You’re the Cure advocates. On behalf of the entire AHA leadership and staff, I want to personally thank you for joining us as we work together to build a culture of health in your community and all communities across this great country.
As advocates with a tendency to want to quickly move on to take on the next policy challenge and opportunity, we often fail to pause to reflect on the success we have achieved and the impact we have had through our advocacy efforts. So with that in mind, I wanted to share some of our exciting victories:
- More than 1 million people got health insurance coverage through expansion of the Medicaid program in, Indiana, New Hampshire, Montana and Pennsylvania.
- Nine more states passed measures to screen infants for congenital heart defects, meaning nearly 900,000 more babies will be screened each year. The simple, inexpensive, lifesaving pulse oximetry test is now required in more than 40 states.
- More than 16 million people have better access to safe places to exercise thanks to shared-use liability laws passing in Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia. These laws enable schools to open their facilities to people for physical activity after hours.
- More than 4.7 million kids will get healthier foods at school, now that Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah have aligned with federal standards requiring these foods be primarily whole grains, fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein.
- Nearly 700,000 residents of the District of Columbia now have healthier food options. The district now requires foods and beverages sold through vending machines on government property meet healthy standards.
- More than 1.3 million students will graduate from high school with CPR skills, thanks to new laws requiring this lifesaving skill in New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Indiana, Oregon, Connecticut and San Francisco. 24 states now require CPR for high school graduation.
- Illinois, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Arizona, Kentucky, New Mexico, Minnesota, Oklahoma and, Rhode established the recognition of all three tiers of nationally certified stroke care facilities. In all of these states, EMS authorities are now required to develop and implement formal transport protocol plans for STEMI and stroke patients, respectively.
- New Orleans banned smoking in most indoor public places, including bars, restaurants and casinos, protecting the city’s residents and millions of tourists from secondhand smoke.
We can all be extremely pleased and proud of the success we have accomplished over the last year and the lives we have impacted through our work. Thank you again for all of your time, commitment and energy that has made this possible.