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Support the FAST Act, Get Virtual Stroke Care in Every Hospital

In the case of a stroke, timing is everything – for every minute that a patient goes untreated, millions of brain cells are dying. Unfortunately, however, there are many barriers to timely stroke treatment, including delays in patients’ arriving at the hospital and a lack of stroke neurologists. Luckily, stroke telemedicine, known as telestroke, can bring a stroke specialist to the patient’s bedside with a flip of a switch.

Through the use of videoconferencing, stroke specialists are able to examine the stroke patient and consult with the Emergency Department about the best treatment option.  The use of telestroke has proven to significantly increase the percentage of patients who receive the clot-busting drug tPA (alteplase), greatly improving the chances of a full recovery. If a patient is given tPA within 90 minutes of having a stroke, they are three times more likely to have favorable outcomes. 

Unfortunately, telestroke is not available at every hospital. According to current federal law, Medicare will only cover a telestroke consultation if the patient is located at a rural hospital. With approximately 94 percent of strokes occurring in urban or suburban areas, many Medicare patients don’t have access to this valuable resource.

The FAST Act

However, there is a solution to this problem: the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act. The FAST Act is a bill in Congress that would require Medicare to pay for for telestroke consultations regardless of where the patient lives. This bill would not only provide patients with the urgent care they need after experiencing a stroke, but it would also save money by reducing disability and therefore lessening the need for long-term rehabilitation in hospitals and nursing homes.

On March 1, 25 You’re the Cure advocates and over 160 neurologists from across the country are coming to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to pass the FAST Act. Join us in our call to Congress by sending an email to your legislators today asking them to co-sponsor the FAST Act.

Every stroke patient deserves access to timely, quality care. We have the technology to help stroke patients, and we should be using it. We need you to speak up today for increased access to telestroke.

Contact your member of Congress today!

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Governor Cuomo's 2016 budget proposal doesn't do enough!

On January 13, Governor Cuomo laid out his 2016 agenda in a combined State of the State and budget address in Albany.  

While my colleague Martha and I sat in the Convention Center and anxiously waited to hear how Governor Cuomo would be supporting programs that protect New Yorkers from heart disease and stroke, we were disappointed to find out that there was nothing included in the executive budget that would aid healthy food access or CPR in Schools support.

The Governor and the state legislature share the responsibility for how New York organizes its budget. It is critical that the final budget include funding for health-related programs we know will save our state money by improving the health of all New Yorkers.

Help us tell Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders to invest in the American Heart Association budget priorities!

Click here for more information about the New York Healthy Food and Healthy Communities fund.

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Your Advocacy Team is Hitting the Road in 2016!

Mark your calendars to join us in 2016!  The North Carolina AHA Government Relations Team: Betsy Vetter, Sarah Jacobson and Kim Chidester will be traveling across the state (from Asheville to Wilmington!) to offer 5 in-person Advocacy Training Sessions.

In these workshops, we will offer education on our 2016 policy issues, an advocacy coaching session with a fun twist, and training on how to interact with your lawmakers.

Choose the workshop(s) you’d like to attend:

[Triangle] February 9th, 2016 from 11:30am – 1:30pm at AHA Offices [3131 RDU Center Drive, Morrisville]
[Charlotte] February 10th, 2016 from 5pm – 7pm at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church [517 Baldwin Avenue, Charlotte]
[Asheville] March 24, 2016 from 5pm – 7pm at Mission Health, Biltmore Park [First floor Community Room, 310 Long Shoals Rd, Arden, 28704]
[Wilmington] April 13, 2016 from 11:30 to 1:30p: Location to be finalized

In these workshops, we will be offering an issues-training around the following policy initiatives:

  • Healthy Corner Store Initiative
  • Closing the Coverage Gap
  • Tobacco use prevention and cessation programs
  • Issue in the pipeline: Active Transportation

We hope that you will save the date that works the best for you to join us in person, and be sure to watch your email over the next few weeks for reminders about these trainings. If you would like to join, please RSVP to Kim Chidester.

Also, we will be offering another opportunity to engage alongside us as we meet directly with your lawmakers!  Please mark your calendar to join us on May 10 as we prepare for our 2016 NC Lobby Day!

See you soon, North Carolina!

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We Are Making Things Happen in South Carolina!

We are excited to kick off 2016 in South Carolina!  This year, session is expected to be eventful and productive.  Please check out our legislative priorities below.  We hope you will join us as we continue our exciting and life-saving work in the Palmetto State!

CPR Training in Schools
Require Hands-Only CPR training as part of the already required health education class for high school students.  Right now, less than 11% of people suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive, and training a new class of young citizens in CPR every year can change this frightening statistic. 

We’ll also be working to: 

  • Require schools to implement the beverage and snack guidelines in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Interim Final Rule Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools.
  • Fully fund the Stroke Systems of Care Act of 2011 setting up a statewide stroke registry. Data analysis from the registry will ensure stroke patients receive the best available care for their condition.
  • Require Medicaid to cover cessation services for current tobacco users including both counseling and pharmacotherapy with no or minimal cost sharing.

Also, please be sure to watch your email for upcoming opportunities to join us in 2016!  Kim Chidester, your Grassroots Director, will be traveling across the state (from Columbia to Charleston!) to offer 3 in-person Advocacy Training Sessions.  As these dates and locations are set, we will be sure to let you know so you can mark your calendars.

Thanks for being by our side!  We couldn’t do this without you. You’re the Cure advocates work to support and advocate for public policies that will help improve the cardiovascular health of Americans and reduce deaths by coronary heart disease and stroke.   If our voice is loud enough this session, we can impact the lives of South Carolinians for many years to come! 

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A New Year in Connecticut

The legislature is getting ready to go back to work and I am excited about all the great policies we are going to be working on. We have made great progress on ensuring that our schools aren’t serving unhealthy foods, so why are they allowed to advertise them in schools? We think that schools should not allow the marketing of unhealthy foods that do not meet Connecticut’s school nutrition standards. We also think we have an opportunity to provide healthy food and beverages in vending machines in all state owned and operated buildings.

We also have an opportunity to secure much needed funding to ensure that we are able to construct bikeways and walkways, provide for safe routes to schools and provide incentives to schools that promote shared use of school facilities. We also believe that we can improve the quality of care provided to the residents of Connecticut by creating a stroke system of care. We look forward to working with you to ensure that we are improving the lives of Connecticut residents.

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Dr. Jan Carney - Educating About the Dangers of E-cigs

Strong clean indoor air laws are the most effective way to prevent second hand smoke exposure. In addition to conventional tobacco products, exposure to aerosol from electronic cigarettes presents a potential threat to public health while normalizing smoking behavior.

Dr. Jan Carney will be joining the American Heart Association and the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont in educating lawmakers at a legislative luncheon on e-cigarettes on February 19th about the importance of prohibiting the vaping of e-cigarettes in the same locations where Vermont currently prohibits smoking.

Dr. Carney warned lawmakers at Smoke Free Vermont's Smoke Free 10 event this fall that e-cigarette use by high school students has tripled in a single year and
U.S. sales are projected to rise almost 25 percent each year
.

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A New Year in Massachusetts

As we start 2016, we have a busy legislative session ahead of us. We are making progress on many of our issues, quality physical education, stroke systems of care, healthy food financing, healthy vending, shared use, tobacco, and our local CPR in schools efforts. I look forward to working together with you to make sure that we see some of these pass the goal line this legislative session. I know you have advocated for many of these issues for many years and just like me you are ready for some success! I hope you are ready for a productive and busy 2016!

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Stroke Advocacy Priorities for 2016

It’s a new year and we are redoubling our efforts to improve the lives of stroke patients and their caregivers. Whether on Capitol Hill or in your state, You’re the Cure advocates will be fighting for stroke smart policies across the country.

Here is a preview of a few of our 2016 priorities.

Increasing access to telestroke care

One of our biggest priorities is increasing access to telestroke via the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act. Right now there are 48 cosponsors, but our goal is 100!

Increasing telestroke access is vital for stroke patients. Allowing a neurologist miles away to virtually diagnose and prescribe care ensures more stroke patients receive clot-busting therapy and that they receive it more quickly, greatly improving the chances of a full recovery.

Save the date! On March 1st, approximately two-dozen You’re the Cure advocates will be in Washington, D.C. urging Congress to support the FAST Act. Stay tuned for ways you can join them from home! 

Make stroke research a priority

In December, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received $2 billion in additional funding! In 2016 we will continue to make sure NIH gets the support it deserves. Why? Because to say medical research has been essential to fighting stroke would be an understatement.

Whether it was the CT scan, the clot-busting drug tPA, or new ways to manage stroke risk factors, it is easy to see that medical research has been essential to fighting stroke. Each life-saving discovery has extended and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who suffer a stroke each year.

Expand state stroke registries

In an effort to improve the quality of care delivered to stroke patients, stroke registries have been developed to measure and track acute stroke care. The more data we can collect on stroke care, the better we can tell what is and what is not working. For example, through stroke registries we’ve learned that patients who arrive at the ER by ambulance get treated more quickly and how to address barriers to using tPA.We are working to get more states to establish these registries and collect this vital data.  

Continue to expand Medicaid coverage

Making sure more Americans have health insurance is critical to saving lives, especially from stroke. Stroke patients without insurance coverage are up to 56 percent more likely to die, compared to stroke patients with insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states have a chance to expand Medicaid coverage to their low-income residents, but unfortunately only 31 states have done so. You’re the Cure advocates will work tirelessly in 2016 to expand Medicaid coverage to more Americans.

As 2016 begins, we are counting on you. Will you join us? If you are not a member of You're the Cure, sign up today!

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You're the Cure at the Ohio Statehouse - March 9, 2016

You're the Cure at the Ohio Statehouse

March 9, 2016

Make plans to join us at the Ohio Statehouse as we meet with legislators in support of policies to improve the heart health of all Ohioans. 

We will be urging legislators to vote yes on House Bill 113 - CPR in Schools, which will train the next generation of lifesavers and voice support for issues such as stroke policy.

 

Registration: Registration for the event is now open. The deadline to register is February 26. Please contact ohadv@heart.org with any questions.  (Advocates are district matched and appointments scheduled according to your home address. Pre-event registration is required.)

Details:

Before the event: We will host briefing conference calls to allow participants to learn the priority issues, logistics for the event, and tips on speaking with legislators. There are two call options on the registration form - you need only participant in one.

Call Options: Friday, March 4 at noon or Monday, March 7 at 10am

Event Day: Registration and training will be held in the Capitol Theatre Lobby at the Riffe Center, 3rd Floor, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio.

Advocacy Day Agenda:

8:30-9:00am Registration 3rd Floor, Riffe Center
9:00-9:30am Final Issue Training and Logistics 3rd Floor, Riffe Center
9:35am Participant Photo 3rd Floor, Riffe Center
9:35-10:00am Group Strategy Meetings 3rd Floor, Riffe Center
10:00am Legislative Meetings Begin Statehouse and Riffe Center

Notes:

  • Lunch vouchers will be provided and can be used in between your appointments.
  • Please note that legislative meetings may continue up until 2:30pm.
  • The Capitol Theatre Lobby will be open throughout the day. Participants are encouraged to return between meetings and to fill out meeting evaluation forms following their appointments.
  • Driving Directions and Parking Information.
  • Accessibility at the Statehouse.

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