AHA Urges Florida Legislature to Invest in Blood Pressure Program

The American Heart Association asks the Florida Legislature to invest $500,000 into blood pressure program. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death of Floridians, blood pressure monitoring is essential in the treatment and reduction of hypertension.

The American Heart Association is advocating for $500,000 toward the Florida Department of Health’s Heart Health Plus program. Advocates from around Florida are urging legislators to invest in the Heart Health Plus blood pressure program for the prevention, treatment, and management of hypertension.

The Heart Health Plus program consists of blood pressure checks, self-monitoring, nutritional information, information on tobacco cessation and referral services to other chronic disease treatment such as diabetes.

”The Heart Health Plus program is important in bringing awareness to heart health and education on how to reduce hypertension. The program also plays an important role in reaching the cardiovascular and stroke prevention goals outlined in Florida’s State Health Improvement Plan,” said Tiffany McCaskill Henderson, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “The AHA is extremely thankful for Senator Burgess, Rep. Trabulsy and Rep. McClure, who have been leading in the support of this funding.”

The funding is part of the House of Representatives current budget proposal, but it still needs to be added to the Senate's budget proposal. “We are working very hard to ensure the funding is in both chamber budget proposals,” said Marsha Kiner, Chair of the AHA Florida Advocacy Committee. “With heart disease being the number one cause of death in Florida, this investment is essential to grow the program and provide these resources.”

Heart Health Plus is administered through the Florida Department of Health and implemented through local health departments. There are only fifteen county health departments, located in rural communities, enrolled in the program. With additional funding, the program can be implemented in additional locations and be offered through a virtual platform to reach additional Floridians in need. The fifteen counties implementing the program include Calhoun, Citrus, Dixie, Gadsden, Gulf, Hendry, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Putnam, Taylor and Union.

“The investment of state funding is critical to grow and sustain the program. The program does not receive any state funding and is funded through CDC grants that the department must apply for,” said McCaskill Henderson.

In addition to advocating for blood pressure program, Heart Health Plus funding, the American Heart Association is asking legislators to support HB 121 Florida Kidcare Eligibility by Rep. Bartleman and Rep. Trabulsy which raises the eligibility income threshold from 200% of the federal poverty line to 300%. The AHA is also advocating for $1 Million in Fresh Access Bucks, along with partners Feeding Florida and Florida Impact to End Hunger, which will allow for more fresh produce to get into the hands of Floridians.

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