Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director
While the weather is finally beginning to cool down the political season is just starting to warm up! While most of the attention is on the run-up to the presidential election taking place just over a year from now, here in Utah the legislature is already in the throes of crafting (and potentially voting on) important policies that will have a profound impact on you and me.
I wanted to give everyone a glimpse into the advocacy efforts we have been engaged in, what issues we are working on now, what to expect in the future, and, of course, how you can help lead the way in our life-saving efforts!
This summer we have worked hand-in-hand with the Utah Department of Health (DOH) on creating new Administrative Rules regarding the recognition of Stroke Facilities in Utah. Utahn’s across the state have benefited from the work of the DOH and hospitals in their efforts to improve the treatment of stroke patients. A few months ago we had a chance to hear the story of Timothy Gamble (link) who served as an excellent example how the treatment of stroke in Utah saves lives. The DOH, Utah Stroke Task Force, and many others are to be commended for their commitment to putting the patient first and always looking for ways to improve.
In March of this year the legislature and the governor agreed to work together to find a sustainable solution to healthcare access. Commonly referred to as “Medicaid Expansion” elected officials have been working with the federal government, providers, and patient advocacy groups to hammer out the details of a plan that would maximize the funds available from the federal government (taxes that we already pay from the state) while ensuring the state is able to meet its financial obligations of the plan. As you know heart disease is the #1 cause of death in America. Critical to combating this disease and preventing death and disability caused by heart disease and stroke is early screening and treatment. This legislation has the potential of saving thousands of lives here in Utah!
We are also continuing to work on Safe Routes to Schools for children across the state. All children, regardless of what school they attend or city they live in deserve to have a safe route to and from school. Whether it is putting in sidewalks, repairing broken crosswalks, or teaching children pedestrian safety skills, more funding is needed from the state to address this critical problem. Right now, schools and cities send in application to the Department of Transportation each year for funds to improve the routes children travel to and from school. Due to a lack of funding, nearly 2/3 of these applications are denied – needlessly putting our children in harm’s way! We can and must do better! Click here to learn how.
While this is not a complete list of issues that we are working on they help make up our policy priorities for this and next year. To learn more about how you can get involved with these issues please feel free to reach out to me.
For heart disease and stroke, You’re the Cure!