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Stroke Advocacy Network Newsletter


JANUARY 2013


Are Your State Legislators Talking About Stroke?

graphic of state license plates

The U.S. healthcare system is affected by laws passed by both Congress and state legislatures. Thus, it’s important that the legislators who represent you at all levels of government understand the needs and challenges of stroke so they can make better decisions about policies that impact the stroke community.

To help you communicate about stroke-related issues with your state legislators, we developed the State Advocacy Action Center. What will you find when you visit the action center? You’ll find information specific to your state legislature, including:

  • A list of pending stroke-related legislation (including bills related to stroke risk factors);
  • A summary of each bill;
  • The status of each bill (updated daily);
  • Legislative news from major media sources in your state; and
  • Links to your state legislature, including the ability to watch live sessions (where available).

We’ve made it easy for you to know what’s going on in your state legislature related to stroke. We’ll also make it easy for you to take action on some of the stroke-related issues you learn about. The action center can help you identify who represents you at the state level and find their contact information. We’ll also be launching “calls to action,” or action alerts, throughout the legislative season. If you’re a member of the Stroke Advocacy Network, you’ll receive a notice by email when an action alert has been posted and a link to the alert. With the click of a button, you’ll be able to send a message to your state legislators about that stroke-related issue along with your personal story. If you live in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Indiana, New Mexico or New York, take action on our latest alert, which is about an issue being debated by your legislators.

Visit the State Advocacy Action Center today and become a stroke advocate in your state. It only takes a minute to make a difference for the entire stroke community!

Stroke and the Fiscal Cliff

warning sign about fiscal cliffIn its final hours, the 112th Congress passed a bill to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” and the president signed the bill into law shortly thereafter. While its tax provisions received extensive news coverage, this new law includes changes to a number of other policies, with some affecting the stroke community. Three of those are Medicare therapy services, funding for stroke-related medical research and reimbursement for physical therapists’ services.

Medicare Therapy Services

The new law extends the Medicare outpatient therapy caps exceptions process for one year (through Dec. 31, 2013). This means that once a stroke survivor covered by Medicare reaches the annual monetary caps on outpatient therapy services, he or she will still be able to get more therapy as long as it’s medically necessary for recovery. The exceptions process is especially important to stroke survivors because stroke is one of the diagnoses that most often pushes people to exceed the therapy caps. The Stroke Advocacy Network supported legislation in the 112th Congress to repeal the caps altogether and to extend the exceptions process until the caps could be repealed. Stroke Advocacy Network members sent more than 13,800 messages to Capitol Hill on this issue in the final months of 2012. Thank you for making your voices heard!

IN THIS ISSUE

State Action Center

Fiscal Cliff and Stroke

Redistricting and You

Get Involved

• • • • • • • •

 

Senator Kirk's Return

Stroke survivor and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) returned to work in Washington, D.C., this month. Watch him climb the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

 

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Free Advocacy Training

Learn how to be an effective stroke advocate. Watch a webinar today!

 

Advocacy and Social Media

Follow your congressional and state legislators on social media. Find out how.

 

Spread the Word

Tell a friend about the Stroke Advocacy Network and make the stroke community’s voice even louder!

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Legislative Resources

The Stroke Advocacy Network has all the resources you need to effectively advocate for the stroke community.



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Stroke-Related Medical Research

The federal government conducts basic research on stroke diagnosis, treatment and recovery through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which is a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The new law delays implementation of the “sequestration” process that would’ve made deep cuts to government spending, including to NINDS. As a result, NINDS is being funded at current levels until the end of February. At that time, Congress must take action again in order to avoid cuts to this program, which is critical in the effort to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke in the U.S. The Stroke Advocacy Network has spoken out against cuts to NIH and NINDS in the past, and we’ll continue to fight to preserve the ability of NINDS to conduct stroke-related research into the future. Contact your members of Congress about this issue and tell them to preserve this important research.

Physical Therapist Reimbursement

The new law also reduces the amount that physical therapists receive for some services provided under Medicare. This change takes effect April 1. National Stroke Association signed on to a letter with a number of other patient and physician advocacy organizations opposing this policy change. The letter was sent to congressional leadership and members of Congress who sit on committees with jurisdiction over healthcare issues.

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Know Who Represents You Now

US Census graphicEvery 10 years, the federal government is required to conduct a census. Information obtained from this effort is used to, among other things, redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts in a process called “redistricting.” The last census occurred in 2010, and state-run redistricting efforts were kicked off shortly thereafter. How does this process impact you?

Since it’s the boundaries of districts that are shifted during this process, most people living in the middle of a district aren’t impacted by it. However, the more drastically the boundaries of a given district are shifted, the more people are impacted. That impact is a change in who represents you. Why is that important? The first step in making your voice heard on an issue impacting the stroke community is to know who you should be talking to (i.e., know who represents you). 

It’s also important to know that the boundaries of both congressional and state legislative districts are open to change during the redistricting process, and those changes aren’t necessarily connected to each other. So while your congressional (House) district may have remained the same, your home could now be in a different state House or state Senate district than it was before. How do you know?

One clue was offered to you last November. Even though the redistricting process for congressional districts ended some time ago in most states, those boundaries didn’t take effect until the 113th Congress, which was sworn in earlier this month. You might have noticed that some of the names on your ballot in the last election weren’t the same as the people who’ve been representing you. That’s because you were voting as a resident of your new district even though those legislators didn’t officially start representing you until this month.

If you aren’t sure who represents you now that the new districts have been implemented, we can help! Visit our Find Your Legislators webpage and find out who you should be communicating with on stroke-related issues. You can use our legislator information worksheet to dig deeper and discover whether your legislators have experience with stroke or healthcare issues. The more you know about them, the more effective your communication with them will be.

The good news is that redistricting only occurs every 10 years (except in rare cases). So you’re going to be in your current district for a while. For those of you who have one or more new legislative “homes” this year, welcome home! The Stroke Advocacy Network is here to help you settle in and make your voice heard!

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Get Involved for Stroke

Find the Fundraiser in YouStart your year off right and join National Stroke Association to make a difference in stroke. Valerie and Lisa host an annual community walk to honor their mom, a stroke survivor. Together, they help educate their community about stroke, while raising funds to help end stroke. Let us help you get started on an event in your community.

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Supported by Allergan, Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, Inc.,
H. Lundbeck A/S, Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Pfizer, Inc.