Next month, hundreds of survivors, caregivers, patients, doctors and scientists across the country will make their way to Washington, DC for You’re the Cure on the Hill - 2017. Their time here will focus on advocating for policies that lift the burden of cardiovascular disease and stroke. They will meet with their members of Congress to share their stories and to advocate for the 3 following issues:
Increase funding for heart and stroke research. In a recent study by the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular disease will be the most costly and prevalent killer, if left unchecked, and it will place a crushing economic and health burden on the nation’s financial and health care systems by 2035.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) supported heart and stroke research is our country’s best hope to prevent and cure heart disease and stroke. NIH-supported research drives economic growth, supports high paying jobs, stimulates innovation, and helps maintain America’s global leadership in medical research.
The FAST Act. The Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act aims to remove barriers to the use of telemedicine and help improve timely access to effective stroke care. Time is of the essence in treating stroke — for every minute that a patient isn’t treated, millions of brain cells die. Telemedicine — commonly referred to as “telestroke” — is highly effective in improving patient access to quality stroke care and thereby reducing disability. Telestroke provides vital care when a stroke specialists is not available in a hospital and increases a patient’s chance to receive the lifesaving drug alteplase (IV tPA).
Unfortunately, Medicare only reimburses for a telestroke evaluation when the patient is located in a rural area. The FAST Act would provide Medicare reimbursement for telestroke services when the patient presents with stroke symptoms in an urban or suburban hospital. About 94% of all strokes occur in urban or suburban areas, and people in these areas deserve access to the improved care that telestroke provides.
Cardiac Rehabilitation. The AHA is committed to public policies that will reduce the treatment gap for cardiac rehabilitation, with a specific focus on the most under-served populations: women, minorities, and low-income individuals. We support legislation that would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to directly supervise patients in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs on a day-to-day basis under Medicare. Through this legislation, information on the benefits of cardiac rehab will be disseminated to physicians and health plans to enhance referral, follow-up, and reduce costs.
Stay tuned for ways to amplify our advocates messages during You’re the Cure on the Hill.
*We’re also keeping our eye on health reform. As Congress considers a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, our priority is ensuring patients facing heart disease and stroke can continue to receive the medical care they need. Health care must be accessible, affordable and adequate for all Americans.