On Wednesday December 5th, the Justus Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force (JW HDSPTF) held its last meeting prior to the start of the 2013 Legislative Session. The meeting focused on an update on the burden of cardiovascular disease in North Carolina which highlighted that while death rates have steadily decreased, CVD continues to be the leading killer in our state, with heart disease currently the second cause of death and stroke the fourth.
You’re the Cure advocate and AHA task force representative, Peg O’Connell presented the new state CVD plan to the task force. The plan, developed by HDSP in collaboration with many partners, including the AHA outlines a strategy for the next five years to prevent heart disease and stroke in North Carolina. It is anticipated that the plan will be widely available on the Start With Your Heart website in early 2013.
The Legislative Committee put forth their policy recommendations to the full task force for consideration and vote. All recommendations were approved. Many are consistent with AHA policy priorities:
- Primary Stroke Center (PSC) Designation
- Stroke Advisory Council Continued Funding
- Community Education/Stroke Funding
- Funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs ($17.3 Million)
- Opposition to attempts to weaken the smoke-free law
- Senate Sodium Resolution
Before adjourning, they took time to recognize and honor Senator William R. Purcell, the current task force chair. Senator Purcell has been the chair since 2003, when then Governor Mike Easley appointed him. Under his guidance the task force has grown into a powerful force for health within our state. Senator Purcell has championed many issues, whether popular or not to improve the health of North Carolinians, reduce the incidence of death and disability from heart disease and stroke, and prevent disease.
You may recall that Senator Purcell was one of our main champions of our state’s smoke-free law. Several members of the task force spoke to honor the Senator. Peg O’Connell presented Senator Purcell with special honors, informing him the new state CVD plan will be dedicated to him. Betsy Vetter, NC Director of Government Relations thanked Senator Purcell on behalf of the American Heart Association for all his work to champion AHA/ASA issues. She commented that in 2010 he was awarded the NC AHA Advocacy Heart of a Champion Award for his work on the smoke-free law and that truly, Senator Purcell exhibits the heart of a champion.
Now that the task force has put forth their recommendations we will be working with the legislative members as they have legislation drafted for the 2013 Legislative Session which begins January 30, 2013.