Volunteer members of the AHA’s Hawaii Advocacy Committee met on Dec. 13 to review and vote on the AHA’s proposed Hawaii policy agenda for 2017-18. The committee unanimously approved the proposed priorities.
Those priority issues include:
Healthier Kid’s Meals
When families go out to eat, often the default beverage that comes with a kid’s meal is a sugary drink. We’d like to change this so that parents would be offered the choice of water or low-fat milk when purchasing kids’ meals for their children, but would have the option to request other less healthy options should they want to. The policy would help to establish healthier nutrition habits for our keiki. Sugary drinks carry large calorie counts, offer little to no nutritional benefits, and are helping to drive the rise in chronic diseases which often are rooted in lifestyle habits established in childhood.
Expand Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Access for SNAP
Establish state-funding for supplement nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits to low-income families to provide them with better access to fresh fruits and vegetables and help to reduce health disparities that continue to drive escalating healthcare costs for all. The funding would be used to expand a federal grant “double-bucks” program in which SNAP funding recipients would be able to purchase double the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables with their SNAP dollars, thus improving family nutrition.
Improved Care and Coordination for Stroke Patients
Enact statewide standards for the formal recognition of stroke facility designations by the Department of Health and its EMS Division, and the development and implementation of EMS transport protocol plans for acute stroke patients. As advanced stroke treatments rapidly evolve, and different treatments are recommended for different patients based on an evaluation on the type of stroke, this policy will help to define the level of stroke services offered by various hospitals and help to guide where EMS will deliver stroke patients to receive optimal care defined by their condition. This will be pursued through enactment of a State EMS policy, rather than legislation, since Hawaii’s State Health Director is granted that authority through previously passed legislation.
Please watch for AHA advocacy alert messages related to these issues in the months ahead for the opportunity to support enactment of these important policies. Also, mark Feb. 23 on your calendar if you’d like to participate in the AHA’s Hawaii Lobby Day event at the State Capitol. You’ll receive training on key AHA issues being discussed at the State Legislature, and be given the opportunity to share what you learn with your legislators in hopes of convincing them to support the proposed policies. The Lobby Day will take place between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the State Capitol. Room information will be shared as the plans are finalized. Please RSVP to https://www.yourethecure.org/hi_heart_at_the_capitol18.