While it’s not often that we get to share news of major national legislative victories, but thanks to the efforts of amazing advocates like you, we achieved 4 HUGE legislative wins!
hero_image_alt_text===U.S. Capitol Building
thumbnail_alt_text===It's time to celebrate four long fought, well deserved victories.
These bills were included in a spending measure passed by Congress early this morning. We’ve broken down and highlighted our legislative accomplishments below, but the main takeaway is that this bill will dramatically improve access to treatment and rehabilitation for heart and stroke patients and increase health research funding.
Expanding the Use of Telehealth for Individuals with Stroke (Previously known as the FAST Act):
This provision will greatly expand access for telehealth services for individuals presenting stroke symptoms. There will no longer be artificial geographic barriers blocking access to telehealth services and will allow more and better treatment options for stroke survivors.
Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR):
Access to CR services has been greatly expanded under this bill. Under the new provisions physicians assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists will be allowed to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Allowing more, well trained medical professionals to supervise the activities will greatly increase access to these safe and effective services. Unfortunately, due to federal budget constraints the CR provisions will not be enacted until 2024, but rest assured, the AHA will continue to work with Congress to improve this timeline.
Medicare Part B Therapy Caps for Stroke Survivors:
Provisions in this bill will permanently repeal the annual Medicare payment cap (limit) on outpatient therapy services, including physical therapy, speech pathology and occupation therapy which are medically necessary for survivors of stroke. This allows for far greater access to these critical therapy services.
NIH Research Funding:
Congress has committed to an increase of $1 Billion in each of the next 2 years for NIH research funding, continuing a trend of investment in health research, which could help save countless lives. While this is less than the $2 Billion yearly increase we sought, we’re confident we can get a further increase down the line. You can contact your lawmakers now to urge them to continue their investment in NIH research funding. After years of having the NIH budget slashed as part of partisan politics we have now secured a commitment to increase funding for the third year in a row!
If these issues sound familiar that’s because the American Heart Association and You’re the Cure advocates have been engaged in a years long struggle to improve Americans’ access to these vital resources and we have FINALLY WON!
This would not have happened without the dedication of You’re the Cure advocates. Thank you for making your voices heard, but our work doesn’t stop there. Encourage your friends and family to become a heart and stroke advocate by joining You’re the Cure! Then share with your Twitter followers and encourage them keep the pressure on Congress to continue to enact heart healthy laws in the future. We’re only as strong as our members, so let’s continue our work to make 2018 a great year for heart health CONGRATULATIONS!