Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts members came by plane, train and Uber to Washington, D.C., in early May with a mission: to tell members of Congress how health care policies, both current and proposed, affect heart patients.
The Advocacy Training and Hill Day event, hosted by the Patient Advocacy Network, drew some 80 members from across the country. The conference consisted of a day and a half of training, followed by a day on Capitol Hill to meet with legislators. PAN leaders had scheduled 85 meetings with representatives, senators and their staff, so that participants simply had to show up, share their stories with the legislators, and ask for their commitment to support heart patients.
There were four specific messages participants discussed with their representatives and senators:
1. To keep federal funding strong for research and development through agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defense’s Medical Research program.
This research is vital for improving lives, finding cures, and developing new treatments for heart disease.
2. To cosponsor the ACE Kids Act and re-authorize the CHIP program. These programs are critical in providing care to medically complex children, such as kids born with a congenital heart defect.
3. To quickly reauthorize FDA User Fees, which support the approval process for new and innovative treatments and devices.
4. To keep in place the patient protections that are in danger with the new American Health Care Act. These protections — such as preventing exclusions for pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, Medicaid cuts, and the fact that under the newly proposed bill insurance companies would be allowed to charge as much as five times the premiums for older Americans, were all discussed.
If you couldn’t make the trip this year, you can still make a difference. Visit https://mendedhearts.org/get-involved/ advocacy/call-to-action for details on our legislative priorities and to find out how to contact your elected officials.