Resilient, innovative, adaptive, and dedicated. These are some of the positive words that define 2020. As new opportunities arise in this New Year, it is tempting to quickly leave last year behind, however, looking back at our year proves these words are true.
The American Heart Association and our amazing You're the Cure advocates never back down from an opportunity to improve health, and the last year provided many opportunities and challenges as communities across the state felt the sting of health disparities, health inequities, and a growing need for assistance.
Here are some of the many ways we've worked to improve health across Michigan, and we know that not a single one of these successes would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our advocates. And, for that, we say THANK YOU.
- Defeated Bad Vaping Bills – Six senate bills introduced in early 2020 did not protect Michigan children from the dangers of vaping, but instead provided loopholes for the tobacco industry to continue their predatory practices. Throughout the year we worked to strengthen these bills, however, when it became apparent that was no longer possible, we successfully advocated for the bills to not move forward. We look forward to starting fresh in 2021 with new, meaningful legislation to accomplish true protections for Michigan’s youth.
- CARES Appropriation – The Governor signed into law a mid-year supplemental bill that allows Michigan to spend $1 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for the Double Up Food Bucks program. This is an important program that allows Michigan families to access fresh fruits and vegetables, while supporting our farmers and local businesses.
- Nutrition Support – Michigan invested $2 Million into the 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms. This matching grant program provides school districts—and now also early childhood centers—with up to an extra dime per meal when they serve locally grown fruits, vegetables and dried beans, helping our kids learn healthy eating habits from the start. The program is now available to schools across the state, including for the first time in the rural Upper Peninsula and urban Detroit.
We clearly have much to be proud of, but there is more work to be done to improve health for all Michigan residents.
This year we will continue our work as champions for health equity by advancing cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care. Here are a few of the policies we are working on.
- Quality Systems of Care Policies – It is critical for Michigan to have a comprehensive system of care in place that ensures that a person having a stroke or heart attack will be identified and assessed quickly, transported to a facility best equipped to handle their emergency, and that certain protocols are adhered to while in the hospital and after discharge. We will also work to enact statewide standards for the development and utilization of stroke and heart attack registries, which further support better patient outcomes.
- Tobacco Prevention - The tobacco industry has continued to create new harmful, addictive and inexpensively priced products to keep users hooked and find new customers. We know that raising the price of tobacco and e-cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to encourage current users to quit and keep kids from ever starting. Increasing tobacco and e-cigarette taxes reduces smoking rates, particularly among price sensitive youth, and raises much-needed revenue that can be used for comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs. In addition, Michigan is one of only 9 states that does not have a licensing law for tobacco retailers, allowing them to sell to kids without punishment. With your help, we will work to change this.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on how you can continue to speak out with us for a healthier Michigan!
Bridget Melinn, Michigan Government Relations Director
American Heart Association
Melissa Brown, Grassroots Manager
American Heart Association
P.S. We hope you'll take a moment to visit our Action Center to see what else we're working on!