The 2018 legislative session has officially come to an end. While it was another lively year at the Missouri State Capitol, our volunteers and staff remained committed to strong public health policy. Unlike last year, a record number of bills were filed and close to a record amount were passed -- keeping all of us very busy. We are proud to report that with your help, we succeeded in having our voices heard in both budget and policy wins!
STEMI Receiving Center Designation
Our year started strong with the Governor signing Senate Bill 50. Through this legislation, we helped enact statewide standards for the formal recognition of ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) facility designations and the development and implementation of transport protocols for STEMI patients in accordance with American Heart Association criteria. The earlier you can diagnose a STEMI (the deadliest type of heart attack), the better chance of survival one has.
An improved version of the Telehealth bill, House Bill 1617, passed during the last week of session. HB1617 specifies reimbursement from the Department of Social Services for services provided through telehealth. Telehealth services are the delivery of health care using technology to communicate with a health care provider who is at a different location than the patient. For many patients who have experienced a stroke, telehealth services can be very beneficial especially in more rural areas of the state.
“Prudent Layperson” Language and Protecting Patients
We reached out to you earlier this year to let you know that we were concerned about insurance company policies that would determine whether they would cover emergency room costs after the fact - discouraging Missourians from seeking emergency care when minutes could mean the difference between life and death, and avoidable lifelong disabilities.
We partnered with the Missouri Hospital Association, Missouri State Medical Association, Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, and the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons on a bill that modified the provisions relating to payments for health care services. Through Senate Bill 982 we expanded the definition of “prudent layperson” and “emergency medical condition” so that patients are protected when seeking care. We preserved chain of survival for all Missourians with this important piece of legislation.
Statewide 911 in Missouri
Missouri has a fragmented 911 system and is the only state with no 911 funding from wireless devices even though 49% of homes only have wireless devices, no landlines. There are 16 counties in MO that have no 911 services at all and 28 counties cannot locate cellphone 911 callers – this service is essential for numerous reasons, including CPR where training includes dialing 911 first.
House Bill 1456 which relates to Emergency Communication Services, changes all of that for the better. This bill changes the laws regarding funding for emergency 911 services, administration of 911 funding, Missouri 911 Service Board, and the cooperation and contracting between emergency services providers. When HB1456 is signed into law, Missouri will finally have a statewide 911 system, something that is long overdue and that many have paid the ultimate price for. This is truly life-saving work thanks to the advocacy efforts of our volunteers, partners and lawmakers committed to public safety.
Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program
While we worked hard on systems and access to care policy, we also worked with partners like KC Healthy Kids and the MO Coalition for the Environment to increase access to healthy foods. After a few years in the works, the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program was finally established with House Bill 1625. This program provides low-income seniors with fresh, Missouri-grown produce.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
This session also proved to be a year of strong defensive work for our advocacy team with food access. We worked to defeat bills that would have taken away federally-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, leaving over 40,000 children in Missouri without vital food assistance. We will continue to educate on and advocate for SNAP program benefits.
We faced opposition from familiar foes this year: the gaming and tobacco industry. As we continue to push for local smoke-free ordinances in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties, opposition mounted at the Capitol. Thanks to months of preparation, countless meetings, strong relationships, and public support, no preemption language around local smoke-free policy was filed.
Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding
Tobacco prevention and cessation funding was secured at $50,000 to be allocated towards the Missouri Quit Line to assist Missourians in quitting tobacco. This funding was initially eliminated from the budget by Governor Greitens but our team and advocates fought for an amendment to have funding restored, guaranteeing a one-to-one federal match. By working with partner health organizations and numerous lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the money was reinstated and remained in the budget. Currently, Missouri has a 25.3% adult smoking rate that’s among the highest in the country, while over 10,000 Missourians lose their lives each year from tobacco use. The Missouri Quit Line assists in saving lives and drastically reducing the overall negative health burden tobacco has put on our state.
The Show Me Healthy Women Program maintained its $500,000 allocation in this challenging budget year. This program funds Missouri's WISEWOMAN Program helping underinsured and lower income women obtain essential cardiovascular screenings to help them prevent heart disease and stroke. The program serves over 4,000 Missouri women each year.
Time Critical Diagnosis (TCD) Program
Funding was reinstated for the Time Critical Diagnosis (TCD) program housed in the Department of Health. Originally eliminated by the Governor, this cut would have made the TCD program inoperable and out of compliance with the state mandate. Thanks to volunteers, strong relationships with the Department of Health and many allies around the state, the funding was reinstated through an amendment.
Grant for Smoke-Free
A 12-month Opportunity Fund Advocacy grant for $250,000 which began November 1, 2017 from the Missouri Foundation for Health was secured. This funding provides support for our smoke-free education and advocacy work in the City of St. Louis and surrounding county.
Wear RED Day at the Capitol
We hosted our annual Wear Red Day at the Capitol where advocates from across the state joined together to remind legislators, staff and the public about the importance of access to emergency services (specifically 911 and emergency department). They met with legislators to thank them for their support of the American Heart Association and our life-saving mission. State legislators presented Wear Red Day resolutions in both the Missouri House and Senate to raise awareness around the dangers of heart disease and stroke. Thank you to all our You’re the Cure advocates who made the trip to Jefferson City to make this day such a success!
Kansas City, MO Receives Silver Award!
CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, offers a close look at whether the nation’s 40 largest cities have nine key policies in place that experts say help residents lead healthier lives and make communities thrive. Kansas City moved up the ranks to silver this year – a spot only 8 other cities were awarded! This was due in part to the passage of Complete Streets and Healthy Food and Beverage Policies.
- Complete Streets Passes in Kansas City, MO - This will allow Kansas City to create a community where active transportation is integrated into street design rather than being an afterthought. Citizens of all abilities in Kansas City will be able to engage in more active transportation such as biking and walking. Of course this ultimately means healthier citizens and a healthier Kansas City – a goal everyone can support! The ordinance will require that every future road construction and reconstruction project in KCMO makes a street safe and comfortable for all users—kids, families, older adults, or people with disabilities—whether they are walking, pushing a stroller, using a wheelchair, riding a bike, driving a car, or taking public transportation.
- Kansas City, MO Passes Healthy Food and Beverage Vending Policy - Now all vending machines at KCMO city facilities will offer healthier snacks and drinks to choose from. All snacks will contain no more than 480 mg sodium per package and contain no trans fat along with labels so we can make informed selections for our health.
We Appreciate YOU!
As always, we appreciate your support of our advocacy efforts! Thank you to all our You're the Cure advocates for your diligence in contacting legislators and shifting gears to different issues as circumstances demanded. Your countless letters of support, e-mails, phone calls and visits with lawmakers were vital in helping us maintain heart healthy policies in Missouri. We look forward to working with you as we prepare for the 2019 legislative session. Please stay tuned to your e-mails to find out how you can help us with our life-saving mission.