Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

AHA's policies move forward in the Legislature: Learn More!

We’re in the home stretch of the 2009 Legislative Session which is slated to end May 18. The Legislature is passing their omnibus appropriations and revenue bills and appointing conference committees to iron out the differences between House and Senate bills. Several American Heart Association policy proposals are still in the running despite a tough legislative session and historic budget deficit.

The Senate heard your call for stronger physical education in our schools. SF 61 is included in their omnibus education bill. Despite passing the physical education provisions in the House two years in a row, the House did not include stronger physical education in their bill this year, leaving schools and districts open to cutting back their programs while childhood obesity remains a growing problem. We will need you to again call on legislators and the governor to ensure our kids get the quality physical education they deserve!

The Women’s Heart Health Act (HF 504) is funded at $100,000 in the House health and human services omnibus bill. This new funding will complement the federal funding Minnesota receives to provide heart disease risk screenings for low-income, uninsured or underinsured women. The average cost of hospitalization for a cardiac event is $108,000 so preventing just one woman from a cardiac event will pay for this program.

Act for a Healthy Future (HF 2194/SF 1990) is an ambitious American Heart Association proposal to raise revenue for important prevention programs including the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), our Women’s Heart Health Act, heart disease and stroke prevention funding and health care access. The revenue source is a $1.00 increase to the cigarette tax, which alone would save thousands of lives by reducing smoking. Hearings were held in the House and Senate, but the revenue source and spending items were ultimately not tied together in current versions of the omnibus bills. Thanks to advocates like you contacting legislators, the House did include a 54 cent increase to the cigarette tax in their omnibus tax bill. While disappointed that this revenue source will not go toward funding the lifesaving and cost saving prevention programs in Act for a Healthy Future, there are tremendous health benefits to increasing the price of cigarettes. We will need you to contact legislators and the governor in the coming weeks to ensure this popular revenue source makes it into law—72% of Minnesotans favor this increase!

Legislators need to hear from you! Thank you for contacting your policy makers to ask them to support the American Heart Association’s life saving policy proposals!

Rachel Callanan
American Heart Association Senior Advocacy Director

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