The 2016 Legislative Session Will Be a Busy One


Guest blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

The 2016 Idaho Legislative Session is gearing up, and the AHA has plenty of work to do on all our policy priorities.

Over the interim, we worked with the Department of Education on improving Physical Education content standards in K-12, to help improve the quality and thoroughness of PE in Idaho. We will work with the Department as they go forward in presenting those changes to the Legislative Committees. Once the improved content standards are approved and implemented this session, the intent will be to move legislation to make PE a requirement in the 2017 session.

We will also be finalizing the rules for the Time Sensitive Emergencies (TSE) System, which we have been working on with the Governor’s TSE Council. TSE deals with heart attack (STEMI), stroke and trauma, where the amount of time it takes to receive care is crucial to the outcome for a patient. These rules provide the structure and process for hospital stroke and heart attack center designation and creation of a data registry for performance improvement.

Putting the Time Sensitive Emergencies system in place will help improve care in Idaho by coordinating emergency medical services, first responders, hospitals, and others involved in the health care system. It will allow all parties involved to communicate more effectively and efficiently, getting patients the care they need in time, improving outcomes and survivability.

We are also working with the Close the Gap Coalition, a group organized to support the Healthy Idaho Plan (HIP). The HIP would allow low-income Idahoans who do not qualify for health insurance subsidies, but have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, the opportunity to access health insurance. The plan would also reduce the need and cost for indigent and catastrophic care plans in the counties and state, while ensuring that all Idahoans have access to care.

The Millennium Fund Committee is reviewing grant applications for smoking education, prevention, and cessation programs, and we will once again support our partners in the effort to reduce the poor health impacts of smoking. We will encourage the Committee to increase funding from $4.7 million last year -  over 25% of CDC recommended funding, to $7.8 million, or 50% of recommended funding. This is in correlation with our local efforts to pass smoke free city ordinances throughout the state.

We have a lot to do, and going into an election year, it will likely be a short session. Advocates will be crucial to our efforts to help people live healthier lives, have access to health care, and improve outcomes for all Idahoans. Your help will reduce the risks of stroke and cardiovascular disease and I look forward to working with you to provide all Idahoans the opportunity to live healthier lives.

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