Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nancy Brown Speaks at National Press Club

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown spoke at a National Press Club Newsmaker event in Washington, D.C. on January 24, 2011 about a new AHA policy statement indicating cardiovascular disease (CVD) costs will triple in the U.S. by 2030. Brown revealed that the $545 billion increase is due in part to an aging population and the skyrocketing financial burden makes it necessary to implement effective strategies to prevent these chronic illnesses. “Unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans,” said Brown. “Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels.”

During her keynote, Brown discussed Life’s Simple 7 (, seven key health factors and behaviors that the association believes are essential for successful prevention including physical activity, proper diet, abstinence from smoking, weight management and control of blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. She also mentioned the effect these diseases and costs have on many Americans who have limited health insurance coverage. Brown shared a compelling story about Frank Amend, an underinsured heart survivor whose family was impacted by huge medical costs for his treatment.

Paul Heidenreich, MD and Justin Trogdon, PhD, two members of the report’s expert panel, commented on the methodology of the findings and remarked that despite the successes in reducing heart disease, we still face an enormous financial burden in medical costs. Members of the media including CNN, Reuters, National Journal, Congressional Quarterly and Politico were in attendance along with representatives from various health organizations.

View video highlights of the event and the full report!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

News from the Hill– Get Ready for the 112th Congress

On January 5, members of the 112th Congress were sworn in on Capitol Hill, beginning the first session of the new Congress. This marks a change in power in the House of Representatives and the start for 13 new Senators in the Senate.

As we prepare to influence this new group of lawmakers to prioritize our nation’s health, it is particularly important for advocates to pay close attention to the 2011 congressional calendar. In-district work periods, or recess breaks, are a prime opportunity to meet with your legislators about the issues that matter most to you. So, mark your calendars and stay tuned for opportunities to help deliver the You’re the Cure message when your Members return home.

View the 2011 Congressional Calendar today!

You’re the Cure Gets a Facelift

Have you visited lately? Go ahead and take a look!

We have just updated our action center to help provide you with the tools you need to stay informed, get involved, and take action in the fight against heart disease and stroke. Whether you take action on our action alerts, share your story, register for an event, or recruit others to the cause, you can have an impact. Make sure to bookmark the site on your computer and check back often!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

State Outlook for 2011

Over the past few months, American Heart Association volunteers and staff in all 50 states have been developing their legislative agendas and preparing plans on how to assure heart disease and stroke related issues are prioritized in legislatures across the country in 2011. In addition to the three states that are continuing their legislative sessions, which started in 2010, we will see 42 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, go into session in January with another four states beginning their sessions by April.

When legislatures reconvene this year, the political landscape will look significantly different in many states. As a result of the November 2010 elections, 13 state legislatures changed party majority and 29 new Governors will be place. These changes will result in many legislatures reorganizing and we are sure to see new committee structures, chairs and legislative leaders in place in 2011. These changes will make for an interesting and exciting 2011.

For 2011, states are prioritizing a variety of heart disease and stroke related issues, ranging from requiring high school students be taught CPR prior to graduation to developing telemedicine systems that will assure those in the most remote locations will be able to receive critical specialty care. The issues which are being addressed most widely are: promoting physical education programs in schools; creating or strengthening stroke system of care; securing or protecting tobacco prevention funding; and establishing strong secondhand smoke policies. Each of these policy issues are on the legislative agendas in more than 30 states.

Of special concern for states will be significant state budget deficits. According to a recent report, jointly released by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), fiscal conditions will remain a major challenge for state budgets and state will continue to face slow revenue growth, increased spending demands and the end of the stimulus funds provided to state buy the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

State budget deficits provide an opening for staff and volunteers to establish the benefits of a tobacco tax increase. The AHA supports tobacco excise tax increases because of the many well-known health benefits however they can also provide much need fiscal resources to state coffers. At least nineteen state advocacy teams crafted strategic plans around a tobacco excise tax increase for their state. State budget deficits also make the plans our state teams carry out around increasing and protecting heart disease and stroke prevention funding even more critical.

For more information about the state policy agenda in your state please contact your local state advocacy staff.