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We're About to Miss Out on Healthier Food and Drink Choices for Howard County

Howard County is about to miss out on a chance to get healthier!  Please act now, and save CB 17-2015 to make healthier food and drink choices more widely accessible, available, and affordable on county property and during county programs. 

County Council passed this bill to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for our citizens, but County Executive Howard Kittleman has different priorities and vetoed it.

Evidence clearly shows that making healthier choices leads to reduction in risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases. The bill would put heathier options in vending machines at eye level and even provide a discount for some.  Why would Howard County not want to support those choices?

Can you make a quick call:

 

  

 

 

If you can make the call, send us a quick reply to let us know you were able to help! 

 

At the very least, please take 60 seconds to send a note to the Council.  This is our last chance to take a stand on CB 17-2015 and insist Kettleman put our health first.

 

  

Want to see more on the issue?  Check out this Opinion Editorial in The Baltimore Sun

 

 

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Should Every Child Have Healthy Food?

Should every child have healthy food?  It seems obvious they should, but the fact is, in Virginia, many do not.   Many Virginians live in areas called food deserts, where access to affordable nutritious food is limited or nonexistent.  Lack of access to healthy foods is a terrible set up for health problems, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. 

The problem is real, and has far-reaching impact.  Over 1.7 million Virginians (including more than 480,000 children) live in lower-economic communities with limited supermarket access.  When families must travel long distances to find healthy food, they are facing significant barriers to healthy eating. 

Learn more in this Special Report from The Food Trust:  Food for Every Child, The Need for Healthy Food Financing in Virginia

This we can change.  You're the Cure advocates and our invested community partners will be working on helping supermarkets and other healthy food retailers fill the gap.  In the process we will be creating jobs and spurring economic development. 

Be a player in the game:  If you're not already enrolled as a You're the Cure advocate, sign up now, and watch your inbox for opportunities to support this effort.  Food is a basic human need - let's make sure our children have access to food that is good for them.

 

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Advocate Spotlight - Libby Char

Libby Char, Hawaii

Despite her extremely busy work schedule as an emergency physician, as the Medical Director for the Honolulu Fire Department and for American Medical Response in Hawaii, and serving on the American Heart Association Hawaii Division Board, Libby Char, M.D. still finds time to support American Heart Association policy efforts to make Hawaii healthier.

She sees the value of using policy change as a way to more quickly and efficiently change public norms that will result in improved public health.  Dr. Char has supported our efforts this year to require all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects, requiring all high school students to receive CPR training prior to graduation, and development of policy aimed at improving Hawaii’s stroke system of care. 

As an example of her commitment, Dr. Char serves as the AHA’s volunteer representative on the Hawaii State Stroke Coalition which worked on successfully passing state legislation that will result in the creation of a state stroke data registry. Requiring that all of Hawaii’s acute stroke care hospitals collect stroke patient data and submit that data to the state Department of Health (DOH), the DOH will then create data reports that the Coalition will use to identify areas of weakness in the state’s stroke system of care and work together to improve them. The ongoing effort is expected to reduce geographic disparities in levels of care and improve stroke patients’ health outcomes.

Stroke remains the third leading cause of death in Hawaii, while nationally it has fallen to the fifth leading killer. It is also Hawaii’s leading cause of major disability. Efforts in other states, similar to those underway in Hawaii, to improve stroke systems of care have been credited with the reduction in stroke deaths nationally.  Coupled with the implementation of new stroke treatment guidelines released by the AHA in June, and the AHA’s ongoing efforts to boost stroke prevention through lifestyle changes, the long-term outlook for stroke patients and their families in Hawaii are looking brighter.

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Washington's 2015 Legislative Session is Officially Over


After a near shutdown of the state government, Washington’s legislative session ended on July 10 after going into three special sessions. From the beginning many suspected this would be a challenging year given the Legislature’s consideration of a transportation revenue package and its need to fund K-12 education to fulfill the State Supreme Court’s McLeary ruling. After many months of negotiating the Legislature is nearing completion of its work and it’s shaping up to be a great year for health policy in Washington.


Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Defects

On April 21 Governor Inslee signed Substitute House Bill 1285 into law. This bill ensures that every newborn in Washington is screened for critical congenital heart defects. Washington joins more than 35 other states in requiring this lifesaving screening. Our thanks to the many advocates across the state who shared with lawmakers the importance of this simple, inexpensive, lifesaving screening.

Tobacco Prevention

On June 29 the Legislature passed an operating budget. The budget includes a $14.5 million appropriation to the Department of Health, a portion of which will be used for tobacco prevention education. As many of you know tobacco prevention and control is a top priority for the American Heart Association and this investment will allow the state program to work closely with communities with high rates of tobacco use to educate youth and adults about the dangers of tobacco. This is the state’s most significant investment in tobacco prevention since the economic downturn.

Safe Routes to School and Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Investments

After a hard-fought campaign to increase state investments in active transportation programs that help Washingtonians get active and healthy we are excited that Governor Inslee signed a historic transportation package into law on July 15 that does just that.  The 16-year package includes more than $164 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects and more than $56 million in state funds for Safe Routes to School. This is on top of $11.4 million in federal dollars for Safe Routes to School and the 2015-2017 biennial budget Governor Inslee signed further investing in both programs. These investments will ensure kids and adults across the state can safely commute via foot and bike, while also getting the physical activity needed for a healthy lifestyle. Our heartfelt thanks to our campaign partners at the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition and Washington Bikes for a fantastic collaborative effort.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools

AHA has advocated for a $5 million investment in the Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools program that would fund school grant applications for water bottle filling stations, physical education equipment, playground equipment, and kitchen renovations to enable scratch cooking. These investments will help shape the school environment for our kids, providing healthier food, beverage and physical activity options.

In all it has been a tremendous year for heart health policy in Washington. We share our sincerest thanks with you, our advocates, for all of your work communicating with lawmakers and talking with friends and neighbors, all to build a healthier state for all Washingtonians.

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Easy Tips to Get Active This Summer!

Did you know that walking for as few as 30 minutes a day provides heart-health benefits? And walking is easy, safe, inexpensive and a great way to spend time with family and friends. Click here to learn more about the benefits of beginning your walking regimen this summer!   

Want to take your walking to the next level? Find out more about your local HeartWalk and how you can participate!

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Looking Back at Our Year Together!

The 2015 Legislative session in South Carolina was a lively one, allowing us to advance some vital pieces of legislation into 2016. Thank you for your advocacy efforts this session!

Senate Bill 320 & House Bill 3265: CPR in Schools
This requires all high school students to be proficient in hands-only CPR and AED as part of the already required high school health education class. The bills received favorable reports with amendments from both the House and Senate Education Committees, and each bill passed its respective body with unanimous support. However, no further action was taken once each bill passed into the opposite body.

Senate Bill 484: School Nutrition Guidelines
This ensures schools are meeting nutritional standards set by the USDA and that standards are regularly updated with USDA guidelines. It also helps parents understand how schools are meeting nutrition standards by reporting compliance in existing school health improvement plans. S 484 passed the Senate during the last week of May and will be ready for consideration by the House next year.

Send a letter to your Representative to urge them to support Senate Bill 484

Tobacco Control Funding:
We advocated during the appropriations process for an additional $6 million in tobacco control funding from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. We were able to protect the $5 million in funding for tobacco control received yearly from cigarette tax revenue.

Smoke-Free Victories:
Two more communities across the state adopted smoke-free ordinances, bringing us to 60 South Carolina municipalities enjoying- smoke-free air!

As part of the You’re the Cure team, we made GREAT strides this year toward improving the lives of South Carolina citizens. We will be revisiting each of these issues in 2016 and have no doubt we will see major victories in the Palmetto State!

Thank you, sincerely, for all you do. You are our hero.

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Supreme Court Rules For the Affordable Care Act

We live in exciting times. While most of the time, the American Heart Association works with our You’re the Cure advocates on legislative issues, recently the AHA (with several other non-profit health organizations) was able to inform Americans across the country that their access to health care had been upheld by the Supreme Court through a ruling on the Affordable Care Act, directly through the court case King v Burwell.

In January, the AHA and other organizations (including the American Cancer Society & ACS Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society) submitted a brief that urged the Supreme Court to rule the original intention of Congress had been to make tax credits for health insurance available to all, not just residents of states that decided to participate in a state health insurance exchange.

The King v Burwell ruling means that residents of states which had previously opted to participate in a federal health insurance exchange will be able to continue to benefit from tax credits for the health insurance they have chosen. Consequently, Americans who participate in the insurance exchange and are eligible will be able to expect tax credits for their policies [this does not affect those who currently receive insurance through their employers].

What does this mean for cardiovascular and stroke? Two facts worth noting for those who are uninsured:

  • Uninsured patients with cardiovascular disease experience higher mortality rates and poorer blood pressure control than the insured.
  • Uninsured people who suffer the most common type of stroke have greater neurological impairments, longer hospital stays and up to a 56 percent higher risk of death than the insured.

American Heart Association President Nancy Brown had this to say in her statement reflecting on the court’s ruling: "We commend the Court for not halting premium tax credits in the federal marketplaces, enabling an estimated 6.4 million people in 34 states to keep the assistance that makes their health insurance affordable. As a result, these patients can continue to focus on their healing and recovery, instead of worrying about losing their coverage and care. Now that the Affordable Care Act has survived two major Supreme Court challenges, it’s time for our nation to concentrate on improving the law and enrolling as many uninsured Americans as possible so everyone can receive the quality health and preventive care they need."

History is made every day, and we are thankful for our advocates who help us change our communities for the better.

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Illinois Legislative Year End Wrap-up

As we close the books on the American Heart Association’s fiscal year and inch closer to the end of the General Assembly’s 2015 overtime legislative session. Let’s take a look back at the progress we’ve made on systems of care in Illinois. We’ve made huge strides, but there’s plenty left to do and we’ll need your help.

Stroke System of Care

On August 18th Governor Quinn signed landmark stroke legislation. Currently, we are on track to have the final Administrative Rules for the 2014 stroke law approved by this fall. The rules will allow for the state designation of Comprehensive Stroke Centers and Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals, as well as the creation of a state stroke registry. 

Lauren’s Law: CPR in Schools

Efforts to implement the 2014 Lauren Laman CPR and AED training law have also progressed. We continue to work with the IL State Board of Education on their promised, though not yet released, Advisory Document to help ensure schools comply with the new law. 

STEMI Heart Attack Legislation: HB 4121

This legislation is on hold in the House pending further negotiations, we hope to move forward soon as this fall during the annual legislative veto session. 

Strengthening Illinois EMS

We have continued our work with the Illinois EMS Alliance to help fight potentially devastating cuts to the EMS Medicaid reimbursement rate. These cuts would put emergency medical care for heart attack and stroke patients at further risk.

Physical Education

There were numerous threats to Illinois’ daily physical education requirement this year. But, because of our strong network of advocates we were able to stop each attempt! There were four bills that threatened the health of Illinois’ kids, including; allowing waivers for students who enroll in AP classes and proposing to eliminate physical education completely. We won another battle on the P.E. front, but will continue to need your voices to fight and protect the long-term health of all Illinois kids. .

Tobacco Control Policies

This year we worked hard to defend Illinois’ Comprehensive Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law from drastic changes. Thanks to our advocates and strong partner organizations, we were able to keep the law intact. Additionally, we worked to support the IL Smoke Free Campus Act which took effect on July 1, making all state campuses smoke free!

HEAL Act: Sugary Drinks Tax

With the legislature in overtime and no budget in sight, our proposed penny-per-ounce sugary drinks tax is still in play as a popular way to raise revenue for the state, restore Medicaid funding and help fund health programs. According to a recent public opinion poll, 65 percent of Illinois voters support a proposal to enact a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and to use the proceeds to improve Illinoisans’ health. The voters of Illinois are willing to pay a tax on sugary drinks in order to curb obesity-related chronic illnesses. This would be a BIG WIN for health and a HUGE LOSS for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. These chronic diseases cost Illinoisans over $6 billion a year in unnecessary health care costs. A penny-per-ounce sugary drink tax is expected to generate more than $600 million dollars a year. These dollars could be used t in communities across the state to expand opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity and restoring Medicaid.

There are many ways you can lend your voice to this campaign TODAY! Please take a minute and complete each action:

1. Sign our petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/support-a-sugary-drink-tax-as-part-of-illinois-budget-solution-and-help-illinois-kids-be-healthier

2. Call key legislators or the Governor and ask them to support the sugary drink tax. Dial 844-325-5900 and you will be connected with the key lawmakers or governor to express your support for the tax!

You can stay up-to-date on the campaign by visiting

www.HEALtheBudget.org

 

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School is out for the summer, but the AHA is still looking out for students

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

The days keep getting hotter, and we are on fire, working hard to prepare for all the exciting things we will be doing this fall!

In 2014, we worked to pass CPR in Schools Legislation that will be implemented when school starts this fall. This means that every student starting as a freshman in Idaho schools will learn hands-only CPR before they graduate. That’s thousands of lifesavers being added to the Idaho population each year! We are now in the process of helping teachers and schools find easy ways to implement this new requirement and working with area first responders and others to make sure they are trained and ready.

In addition to our CPR in schools efforts, we’re also focusing on the importance of quality physical education (PE) classes and nutritious food options. We’ll be talking to advocates around the state to help support these efforts, with a focus on cultivating youth advocates. We want to hear from Idaho’s students!

Also, if there is a great PE program or school garden in your community or you walk or bike to school every day to stay active, we want you on our team!  We are in the process of identifying advocates across the state that are interested in talking to their Legislators and other community leaders about how we can be healthier throughout the school day. So if you know someone in school that wants to improve their PE and nutrition programs, we want to hear from you and potentially have you join us for our Youth Advocacy Day at the Capitol in January.  

We’ve got a lot more great things getting warmed up in advocacy, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, keep cool out there- I suggest taking a few laps in the pool to cool off, stay active, and have fun all at the same time!

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