Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Advocate Spotlight! Couple Shares Story to Inspire Change

Since suffering a serve and debilitating stroke in 2004 at the age of 53, Rob Mateus and his wife, Kristine (pictured second and thrid from right), have been unstoppable. This Utah couple worked together through ten weeks at a rehabilitation facility, followed by 18 months of outpatient physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Thanks to the excellent care he received, and Kristine’s support, Rob’s recovery has been better than expected.

Now, the husband and wife team work together to promote education, research, funding and support for programs to put heart disease and stroke at the forefront of public awareness. “We didn’t realize how widespread heart disease and stroke are, or the breadth of its consequences to people of all ages and backgrounds. Our hope is by telling Rob’s story and actively participating in activities that promote awareness, we can contribute to the efforts of the AHA/ASA to significantly reduce the occurrences of many of these preventable conditions,” said Kristine.

Together, Rob and Kristine have traveled to their state capital and to Washington, DC to meet with their elected officials. Most recently, they met with Representative Jim Matheson while he was home for August Recess to discuss issues including nutrition in schools, women’s heart health, and funding for research- and thanks to their efforts, the Congressman agreed to cosponsor the HEART for Women Act!

“Contacting our legislators has been especially interesting and much easier than we would have imagined. Both locally and in Washington, our lawmakers have been receptive to our requests for their time and their support. Constituent input is important to them and they do listen.”

Keep up the great work Rob and Kristine! Thank you for all you do!

Heard on the Hill- ‘Lame Duck’ Session

With Election Day just around the corner, you are likely hearing political pundits talking about the “lame duck” session that will follow the elections. But what exactly is a “lame duck” session?

“Lame duck” sessions occur when Congress reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections. Some lawmakers who return for this session will not hold a seat in the next Congress, therefore, they are informally called "lame ducks".

This year, the “lame duck” session convenes on November 15th. That means lawmakers will have about six weeks to pass legislation before the session ends in December. Any bill that is still pending at the end of a congressional session dies, forcing lawmakers to start from scratch, reintroducing it at the start of a new two-year term, which begins in January.

The American Heart Association will be particularly focused on moving the HEART for Women Act through the Senate and the Child Nutrition Act through the House during the "lame duck" session to complete the work on those bills. We'll be calling on advocates like you to push Members to act before time runs out.

Idaho Bill Helps Make AEDs More Accessible

Idaho has a reason to celebrate! This year, the state successfully passed a bill to protect businesses that want to place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in their buildings from liability, helping to make AEDs more accessible to more people. Before the passage of this bill, many Idaho businesses wanted to place AEDs in their workplaces or public places, yet refused to do so fearing law suits.

The campaign started at a local Go Red for Women event, where Boise Mayor David Beiter, shared his experience with an AED. During a council meeting, an individual in the audience went into cardiac arrest. Fortunately, an AED placed in city hall was used to save this person’s life. After sharing his experience, Mayor Beiter got 300 participants at the event to sign petition postcards to state legislators, showing their support of this life-saving legislation.

Brad Dixon, the chair of AHA’s Idaho State Advocacy Advisory Committee, led the volunteer effort to meet with key legislators on the committees who would decide this bill’s fate. Using his experience as an attorney and a You’re the Cure advocate, his expertise was invaluable to shaping and moving the legislation.

Congratulations Idaho You’re the Cure advocates on the passage of this critical legislation!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Child Nutrition Act Update- Still Time to Act!

The Bad News: The anticipated House vote on the Child Nutrition Act was delayed last week.

The Good News: We still have a chance to get the bill passed by the end of the month! Tell your Representative to finish the work on the Child Nutrition Act NOW!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Are you ready for September 23rd?

September 23rd marks the six-month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law- and for the 81 million Americans living with heart disease or stroke, and the millions more at risk, it is definitely a date to take note of. That's because a number of new health care protections, which will help improve patients' access to affordable care, will take effect that day.

Do you know what this means for you?

If not, you're not alone. That's why the American Heart Association is here as a resource for patients and their families. As an informed consumer, it is critical for you to understand what's changing and what options are available to you in order to access and afford the quality care you need and deserve.

By visiting our website,, you will find:

1. Information about the patients protections taking effect this week, such as:

- Eliminating lifetime caps on coverage and restricting annual limits

- Prohibiting coverage denials to children based on pre-existing conditions

- Allowing young adults (under age 26) to remain covered under their parent's plan

- Providing preventative services for free under new health plans (and in Medicare starting January 1)

- Prohibiting insurance companies from rescinding coverage if you get sick

2. A series of short videos featuring AHA experts who answer your fellow volunteers' questions about the health care law and the new protections mentioned above.

3. Links to other resources to provide you with additional information and tools to learn about the protections and options available to you.

The American Heart Association has long recognized that ensuring patients have access to the care they need is critical to our mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. We hope you will seek out the information you need to learn about how the new law will affect you, so you can take full advantage of these new consumer provisions and patient protections.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let's Flood the Fax Machines on Capitol Hill

August Recess is over and Congress is back in action this week- which means it's time for the House of Representatives to resume its work to get the Child Nutrition Act passed.

Today, the American Heart Association is running an ad in Politico, to help stress the importance of prioritizing action on the Child Nutrition Act this month. Now, we need your help to ensure every Representative sees the ad and gets the message: It's crunch time for childhood obesity!

Will you fax the ad to your Representative today?

We've made it easy! Just follow the simple steps below:

1. Download and print a copy of the AHA's Child Nutrition Act ad.
2. Write a personal message on a cover sheet for your fax, including your name and address.
3. Fax the ad to your Representative (you can find their fax number on their website).
4. Let us know you faxed the ad by reporting your action!

The Senate has already passed the Child Nutrition Act, so it is up to the House of Representatives to make healthier classrooms and cafeterias a reality for our kids this year.

But time is ticking. Before our Representatives' attention shifts to the upcoming elections, we need to ensure they devote their attention to the health of our kids. By getting the ad in front of your Representative today, you can help keep the pressure up until the job is done.

Thank you for your continued work to fight for healthy kids!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We Want to Hear Your Story!

With implementation of the new health care law underway, making health care coverage more accessible and affordable to millions of Americans, we want to hear your health care story!
By sharing your personal story about the new health care reforms that have benefitted you or your family, you can help educate your fellow heart disease and stroke patients about the new coverage options and protections that may be available to them as well.
  • Do you have a child with a pre-existing condition who is now eligible for coverage?

  • Have you encountered problems with lifetime caps in the past- which are now prohibited?

  • Are you a young adult (under 26 years old) who can now stay covered under your parent’s plan?

  • Have you put off preventative care in the past because you couldn’t afford it?

  • Are you or someone you know enrolled in the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan?

  • Are you a senior who has recently received a rebate check to make it easier to purchase prescription drugs?

  • Have you had your insurance policy cancelled after you got sick, which is now prohibited?

If you fit any of the profiles above, let us know! Your story won’t be used without your consent, but as opportunities to share patient stories come up, whether it is on the web, through the media, or at events, we’ll be able to reach out to you to discuss your interest in helping further.

Get Answers to Your Questions about the New Health Reform Law

If you’re like most Americans, you have questions about how the new health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, will affect you and your family. A number of new protections and reforms take effect on September 23rd, the six-month anniversary of the law. The American Heart Association has launched a series of brief videos in which AHA experts will answer some of the most common questions posed by patients and consumers about the new law. To view these videos, visit

It’s important that all consumers know about the new protections afforded to them in their dealings with their insurance companies. The following insurance reforms are among those that take effect starting with health insurance plan years beginning on or after September 23rd (for many Americans, this will be January 1, 2011):

  • Children under age 19 can no longer be denied insurance coverage because they have a preexisting medical condition;

  • Health insurance plans can no longer cancel coverage when an individual becomes sick (except in rare cases of fraud);

  • Young adults without their own employer-provided health insurance are able to stay on their parents’ policy until age 26;

  • Lifetime caps on insurance coverage are prohibited;

  • Annual dollar limits on coverage are being phased out, beginning this year. For plan years beginning after September 23rd, 2010, annual dollar limits lower than $750,000 will be prohibited;

  • New private health plans and some existing health plans are required to cover evidence-based preventive screenings and services at no additional cost to the consumer;

  • New private health plans and some existing plans are prohibited from requiring individuals to get prior approval before seeking emergency care at a hospital outside of their plan’s network and they can no longer charge higher co-pays or deductibles for emergency care received at an out-of-network hospital; and

  • New Preexisting Condition Insurance Plans are available in every state to provide health insurance to individuals who have a preexisting medical condition and have been uninsured for at least six months.

The new videos launched by the American Heart Association provide more information about many of these new provisions of the law. In the videos, AHA CEO Nancy Brown, AHA President Dr. Ralph Sacco, AHA Past President Dr. Clyde Yancy, and AHA Chief Science Officer Dr. Rose Marie Robertson answer questions about these new protections. To watch the videos, visit