Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Advocates in Action - March Fly-in Wrap-Up

Nearly 85 researchers and survivors joined the American Heart Association in Washington, DC, on March 10th for the Research Saves Lives lobby day. The advocates met with 95 Congressional offices, asking key Members of Congress to support increased funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) heart and stroke research. During the meetings, survivors and caregivers shared personal stories about how medical research saved their lives, while the scientists explained the significance of their research.

You’re the Cure advocates across the country were also invited to participate in the event virtually. By emailing and calling lawmakers and spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter, advocates helped reinforce the message being delivered in person on Capitol Hill. More than 10,600 email messages were sent to Members of Congress in support of increased NIH funding. Facebook and Twitter posts resulted in more than 140,000 impressions, raising awareness about the importance of NIH heart and stroke research.

Check out this video for some highlights from the day!

What Does Health Care Reform Mean for Heart Disease and Stroke Patients?

Completion of Congress' action on the health care reform bill brings with it important improvements to the health care system that the American Heart Association advocated for to help make health care coverage more affordable and accessible, improve the quality of care, and place a greater emphasis on prevention and wellness.

With the passage of reform, patients with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage (beginning this year for kids and in 2014 for adults), lifetime caps placed on coverage will be eliminated and annual caps will be curtailed starting this year, and preventive care will now be available with no co-pays or deductibles for seniors and consumers in new health insurance plans. Additionally, families will be able to make healthier choices about the meals they select at most restaurants because of the calorie information that will be added to menus. The new law also includes incentives to improve the quality of care patients receive, by rewarding value over volume and improving coordination and teamwork among health care professionals. To learn more about what reform means to patients with heart disease and stroke, please visit our website at

While the new law is not perfect, the American Heart Association supported passage of the final package because it will make significant progress towards improving affordability and accessibility of care for patients and their families. The status quo is simply untenable for too many Americans and unsustainable for all of us.

Over the upcoming months and likely years, the American Heart Association will work with Congress, the Administration and our patient advocacy partners to monitor the implementation of these provisions and to build upon this progress as we continue to advocate to ensure the health care system meets the needs of all heart disease and stroke patients.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Use the Recess to Say “Thank You” for Health Care Reform

Last week, as Congress finished its work on the final health care reform package, the American Heart Association ran an advertisement in the Capitol Hill publication, Congress Daily to thank Members for their action, and their votes, on behalf of patients everywhere.

We need your help to make sure legislators who supported health care reform saw the ad and got our message of thanks.

Starting today, Members will be home for a two-week in-district work period, or recess. This means your legislators won’t be holed up in Washington, but instead will be out and about in your community and much more accessible. It’s a perfect time to approach them and thank them for voting in favor of comprehensive health care reform!

We’re asking our You’re the Cure advocates who live in the state or a district of a Member who voted “Yes” for reform, to do a “drop-by” to your legislator’s office and deliver a signed copy of the ad. It’s simple! Just follow the steps below:

1. Find out how your Representative and Senators voted.

2. Visit your legislator’s website to find the address of the district office that is closest to you.

3. Print off a copy of the ad above and add your signature and address to the bottom.

4. Drop-off the signed copy of the ad to your legislator’s office during the recess period (March 29th-April 9th). You don’t need an appointment - just stop by. If your Member is there, ask if you can offer your thanks in person. If not, you can leave the ad with one of the staff.

5. Let us know you completed the drop-by. Click here to record your action!

If you can’t make it in person, you can also fax your signed copy of our ad to their office by finding the fax number on their website.

Thanks for all that you do!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Saving Lives from Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is a particularly deadly form of heart disease, with survival rates for out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest victims remaining at just 8%.

However, a victim’s chance of survival more than doubles with immediate CPR and early defibrillation - an electrical shock that helps restore the heart to its normal rhythm - using an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

Placing more AEDs in public settings will save additional lives. Unfortunately, many rural areas and small communities simply cannot make the investment needed to protect their citizens from sudden cardiac arrest.

The federal government does have programs to help these communities by providing competitively awarded grants that allow states to purchase AEDs, train lay rescuers and first responders in their use, and place them in public areas where sudden cardiac arrests are likely to occur. Unfortunately, due to limited resources, only ten states received money for this life-saving initiative in 2009.

This is where you can make a difference.

Please take a minute to ask your Members of Congress to restore the Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program to its 2005 funding level, when 47 states were able to receive resources for this initiative to save the lives of sudden cardiac arrest victims.

The people in rural areas and small communities all across the United States deserve the best shot at survival too!

Please send a message to Congress today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fighting Childhood Obesity with the HELP Schools Act

When it comes to addressing childhood obesity, communities across the country must work together as a team to ensure healthy school environments for our kids. This means parents, teachers, administrators, health experts, and students all have a role to play in being part of the solution.

Congress has a role to play as well, and they are beginning work on updating (“reauthorizing”) legislation that will guide the meal programs and nutrition standards for our nation’s schools. And we have an outstanding opportunity to advocate for changes that will improve the way schools approach their nutrition and physical activity goals for our kids.

We know that strengthening local wellness policies is key component of a “team” approach to keeping kids healthy, and the HELP Schools Act, recently introduced by Senator Klochuar (D-MN), will do just that. Her legislation ensures that all school districts implement policies on nutrition and physical activity by establishing standing local wellness policy committees, ensuring that parents and the community are informed and engaged, providing assistance to schools, and evaluating the effectiveness of the policies.

Stay tuned for opportunities to act for healthier school environments!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Job Isn’t Over Yet...

In case you missed the historic news, yesterday the House of Representatives voted to pass the final health care reform package by a vote of 219 to 212!

Thanks to the efforts of You’re the Cure activists, Members voted for meaningful reform with patient protections that will help Americans live healthier lives - and voted against the status quo of denials based on pre-existing medical conditions, caps placed on coverage, and unmanageable out-of-pocket costs for treatments and preventative services.

This action by the House sends significant, meaningful reform to the President for his signature.

But our job isn’t yet done; there’s a final step to overcome…

Starting today, we need to ensure the Senate follows the House of Representatives’ lead and finishes this year’s work on health care reform by promptly passing the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act. This legislation will further strengthen and improve upon reform by making coverage more affordable.

Contact your U.S. Senators today with the message: Act NOW and Vote YES!

The Senate - which could vote as early as this week - must pass the agreed-upon improvements to the health care package in order to complete action on reform. For the improvements bill to pass, a majority of Senators will need to vote YES - and patient advocates, like you and me, must continue to express our support on behalf of the 81 million Americans living with heart disease and stroke, and the millions more at risk, until the job is done.

This is the closest that this country has come to adopting comprehensive health care reform

Urge your Senators to do their part to finish the work on meaningful health care reform.

(After you take action, please share this blog post with your Facebook and Twitter friends!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

This is It: House Vote on Health Care Reform Imminent

After months of debate, the House of Representatives will vote in a few days to either pass health care reform, or carry on with the status quo of a broken health care system -- and the vote is expected to be extremely close.

Passage of the bill in the House will require 216 votes, and we’ll need to keep the pressure on for every one of those votes until the gavel falls on the final roll call. It’s time for You're the Cure advocates, like you, to take a stand for patients and speak up now! If you’ve been meaning to take action on health care reform, but haven’t found the time - that time is now!

Watch Health Care Reform Patient Stories

We can’t allow the status quo to continue. For patients, it means an estimated 20 million Americans becoming uninsured over the next decade, tens of thousands of Americans losing their lives because they can't afford the care they need, rising health care costs, and Medicare's trust fund drying up. Quite simply, failure to pass health care reform is not an option.

The final health care legislation isn’t perfect, but it makes significant improvements to our current health care system that we can build on for years to come, such as:
  • Expanding health insurance coverage to an additional 32 million Americans

  • Ensuring patients with pre-existing medical conditions will no longer be denied or dropped from coverage.
  • Eliminating lifetime and annual caps on essential medical services.
  • Making coverage more affordable for millions of American families and small businesses by pooling them together to benefit from group rates
  • Promoting prevention by requiring private health plans and Medicare to provide coverage for preventive services
Health care reform is critical to reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and helping all Americans live healthier lives. So, at this truly historic moment, we ask you to come together with other patient advocates and demand better than the status quo.

After you take action, please be sure to tell your friends or post a link to our advocacy on your Facebook, Twitter or other social networking profiles.

Thank you for speaking up for progress and being a part of You're the Cure!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You’re the Cure Advocates Take to Capitol Hill

Last week almost 85 You're the Cure advocates from Congressional districts across the country came to Washington to share their personal stories with lawmakers and advocate for increased funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) heart and stroke research. It was a great event for advocates, but what was even more important is that they had 95 meetings with key decision makers to deliver the Research Saves Lives message.

The entire day was energizing and reminded everyone what's at stake in the search to find a cure for heart disease and stroke. Before heading off to the Hill, advocates had a training session from the AHA Chairman of the Board, Neil Meltzer, and AHA President, Dr. Clyde Yancy. Before heading out for afternoon meetings, advocates heard an inspiring luncheon addresses from Dr. Story Landis, the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of NIH and Molly Nolan, a heart defect survivor from Texas.

I don't have to remind you why increasing NIH funding for this research is so critical. Even though heart disease and stroke are the leading killers of Americans, NIH continues to invest only four percent of its budget on heart research and a mere one percent on stroke research. More funding could enable NIH to pursue promising research opportunities that could lead to innovative treatments and prevention strategies and even cures.

We made quite an impact on Capitol Hill, but we still need your help! Please ask your Members of Congress to support increased funding for NIH heart and stroke research.

Want to do even more? Take a minute and re-post this blog entry on your Facebook, Twitter or other social media profiles. Your help in spreading the word within your network will result in additional voices calling for this funding – and we need all we can get!

Thanks again for being a part of You're the Cure.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Patients To Congress: Save Our Vital Therapy Services Today

Medicare patients who have a debilitating illness, such as stroke, and who need outpatient therapy, are subject to arbitrary yearly limits or "therapy caps", regardless of what their doctors recommend. But the AHA/ASA, joined by over 40 other patient and provider groups, has been calling on Congress to reinstate the exceptions process that would allow patients to access the care they need without arbitrary caps.

The good news: Congress listened, with the Senate passing a bill last night that extends the therapy cap exceptions through March 31, 2010. The House had passed the same bill on February 25th.

The bad news: This is only a short-term fix. After March 31st, patients who reach their cap will face costly out-of-pocket charges, compounding the challenges of recovery with financial worries.

As Dr. Eric Aldrich (far right in picture), an AHA/ASA volunteer and an associate professor of neurology and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said today at an event on Capitol Hill, “Now that Congress has provided some immediate relief to Medicare beneficiaries being affected by the caps, it is critical to extend the exceptions process for the longer term to allow these individuals to have the peace of mind that therapy services will be there when they need them.”

Stay tuned for more opportunities to act on this important issue. We will need advocates like you to continue to send the message to Congress that a long-term solution to eliminating these therapy caps is critical for stroke patients. And- If you or a loved one is stroke patient on Medicare who has reached the therapy cap, or is approaching the cap, please share your story with us by emailing Patient stories are so important to expressing the urgency of this issue to Congress.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Join our Lobby Day- Virtually!

American Heart Association advocates will be storming Capitol Hill on March 10, making the case to key lawmakers that we need to boost our investments in heart and stroke research. They’ll be talking to Congress face to face, but they can only do so much in one day. They need your help to reinforce the message!

Here are all the ways you can join our “lobby day” on March 10:
1) Send a message to your lawmakers – There’s no easier way to make your voice heard than by filling your legislators’ inboxes. Let them know that there are millions of Americans who care deeply about this crucial medical research.
2) Back that up by picking up the phone – and calling 202-224-3121 to tell your members of Congress how important this funding is. Drop us a note at to let us know you’ve made a call.
3) Spread the word on Facebook.
4) Join the “Tweet Storm” – Tell your followers on Twitter you just stood up for heart and stroke research funding and ask them to do the same. And, stay tuned this month for a way to deliver our message by tweeting at your Member of Congress. Be sure to use the "#ResearchSavesLives” hashtag when you can.
5) Finally, if you want to take it one step further, spread the word to friends and family by passing along the link to this post – and ask them to join you.

Thanks so much for helping us build momentum on Capitol Hill. With your help, we’ll hit our aggressive goal of 25,000 messages to Congress this month – and we’ll secure this crucial research funding that saves lives.