The 2023 Florida Legislative Session is scheduled to run from March 7 - May 5, 2023. We have set two legislative priorities to help Floridians live longer, healthier lives and scheduled a couple of events during session.
Blood Pressure Programs: Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure and many do not know they have it. The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked. Accurate measurement of blood pressure —in the physician office and in patients’ homes—is essential for the diagnosis and management of hypertension. As such, we will ask the Florida Legislature to secure funding for Heart Health + targeted at the prevention, treatment and control of hypertension.
Self-Measured Blood Pressure: Another way we're helping Floridians to manage their blood pressure is by asking the Legislature to support Medicaid coverage of self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring devices for the diagnosis and management of patients with hypertension and to address barriers to the implementation of SMBP monitoring. SMBP is an evidence-based strategy that can improve blood pressure control for individuals with hypertension. It is most effective when an individual has access to a validated blood pressure device for home use coupled with ongoing clinical support.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Incentives Funding: When people struggle with making their food dollar stretch further, they may have to sacrifice quality or variety or even skip meals to make ends meet. The results can be devastating, with increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, as well as trouble in school for children and teens, and increased stress and poor mental health. As such, we will urge the Florida Legislature to support an increase in funding for Fresh Access Bucks (FAB), a USDA-funded nutrition incentive program in Florida that encourages SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits at farmers' markets, produce stands, community supported agriculture (CSAs), and mobile markets to purchase healthy produce directly from Florida farmers. Learn more about the program at www.freshaccessbucks.com.
We will monitor all filed legislation, in case any impact the mission of the AHA to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. A key issue we will watch for per usual is preemption. We want to protect the ability of local governments to pass heart-healthy policies for their communities.
We invite you to register for our virtual Florida Heart Advocacy Day on March 22 to hear from key stakeholders and legislators about the importance of this advocacy work and how you can let your voice be heard. With your support, we can help all Floridians live longer, healthier lives.
Julie M. Howell is the Sr. Region Grassroots Lead for the American Heart Association in the Southeast, working closely with volunteers and staff to pass public policies that build longer, healthier lives for all.