As the calendar turns towards fall, the state-level advocacy planning period kicks into high gear at the American Heart Association. With our Legislative Session starting in January and the holidays consuming several important weeks before then, our functional path to the Session starts to shrink quickly. That’s why we’ve been spending the summer shoring up two key priorities for 2024.
hero_image_alt_text===A picture of the Utah state capitol building
thumbnail_alt_text===A picture of the Utah state capitol building
One of our top goals is expanding Healthy School Meals for All and ensuring that more Utah students are eligible for no-cost meals at their schools. To do this, we must pass legislation that expands eligibility for students to qualify for no-cost school meals and creates a long-term infrastructure to lead to a full Healthy School Meals for All for policy in the near future. We know that school meal programs have multiple positive effects on students’ health, learning, and well-being and that school meals are the healthiest option for students. By allowing more students access to no-cost, nutritious meals, we are helping equip our young people for the world by letting them focus on being a child and student, not on being hungry.
Another goal in 2024 is to pass legislation to create a statewide heart attack facility designation in Utah. This would require the State of Utah to recognize hospitals that have been designated by national certifying bodies, like the American Heart Association, in their high quality of care for acute cardiac patients. When dealing with a time-sensitive medical emergency, like a severe heart attack, the right care at the right time at the right facility really matters. A system of care allows for scientifically proven measures to be applied to every patient every time. Getting to the right hospital quickly increases the likelihood of survival and reduces the recovery time for people experiencing a heart attack. Patient outcomes improve when medical professionals follow the most up-to-date evidence-based treatment guidelines. It’s important to note that this wouldn’t put a new burden on facilities but would simply require the Utah Department of Health and Human services to acknowledge which facilities are best qualified to care for acute cardiac events.
Though much is likely to change in the coming months, these two campaigns will need a strong network of volunteers to help educate stakeholders, advocate, and leverage their stories to help pass these bills. The best way to do this is by staying in touch on You’re The Cure and putting our 2024 Heart on the Hill Lobby Day, scheduled for the morning of Tuesday, February 13th, in your calendar. And if you would like to engage more on these issues or any other, please reach out.