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Stroke Advocacy Network Newsletter


OCTOBER 2013


New Health Insurance Options

Learn more about the Affordable Care Act

One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is to expand affordable health insurance coverage to those who don’t currently have it, including people with pre-existing conditions. The state health insurance marketplaces created to provide this coverage are now open for enrollment. This means that new health insurance options may be available to you. In addition, some people may qualify for financial assistance, known as a “premium subsidy,” to help pay their health insurance premiums.

We know many people have questions, so we’ve created a webpage to help you determine how the law might impact you and your loved ones. The webpage provides information about the law, including information about how it interacts with Medicare coverage, links to each state’s health insurance marketplace and a premium subsidy calculator. You have until Dec. 15 to enroll and coverage starts Jan. 1, 2014. Visit our Affordable Care Act webpage today for more information.


Medical Research Takes Another Hit

sign saying this building is shut downGovernment supported medical research activities were put on hold in early October by the federal government shutdown. This shutdown closed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which is the nation’s primary stroke research agency. Congress continues to seek an agreement that will set comprehensive funding levels for all government agencies and programs, which would reopen NIH and NINDS.

Even with an agreement to reopen government, the NIH will continue to be underfunded, operating at five percent below the previous year. It’s also likely that any short term agreement will not include funding for the President’s proposed Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. This brain mapping initiative has the potential to produce major advancements in stroke diagnosis, treatment and recovery, dramatically reducing the incidence and impact of stroke in the future.

The stroke community should be very concerned about how these reductions will impact the ability to both find the causes of and provide improved treatment for stroke. Most political observers agree that given the current fiscal and political environment, Congress is unlikely to return NIH funding to its previous (higher) funding levels. The only way to change that and to preserve the ability of NIH and NINDS to find the next big advancement in stroke care is for the stroke community (that’s Take action today on this important issueyou!) to speak up. We’ve made that easy. Please take a minute of your time to make your voice heard on this important issue today, and help stroke claim fewer lives tomorrow.


Medicare Therapy Caps Deadline Approaches

image of Medicare card

We’ve heard a lot in recent weeks about deadlines in Congress. However, one deadline looms even larger for stroke survivors – Dec. 31. This is the day when access to outpatient physical, speech and occupational therapy services for stroke survivors on Medicare will be capped at $1,900 per year – unless Congress takes action to prevent it.

IN THIS ISSUE

Affordable Health Insurance

Medical Research Threatened

Medicare Therapy Caps Deadline

Make a Difference for Stroke

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Have You Been Impacted By Medicare Therapy Caps?

Have you experienced problems this year getting therapy services covered by Medicare? Tell us about it. We’re working to make sure those services are available to stroke survivors. Your story can help us do that. Send us your story today.

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What does this mean for stroke survivors across the country? It means that starting on Jan. 1, 2014, Medicare recipients will have their therapy services limited by an arbitrary dollar amount each year, even if additional services are medically necessary for their recovery. This situation is occurring because an “exceptions process” that currently allows beneficiaries to get more services than the caps allow will expire at the end of 2013. The only way to prevent this is by congressional action.

The ramifications of this policy change reach beyond Medicare recipients. The Medicare program often serves as a model for the choices made by private insurers on what to cover. Thus, allowing the exceptions process to expire sends the signal to all healthcare plans that therapy services above a certain level should not be considered a priority.

You can join advocates from across the country in a national campaign to “stop the therapy caps” by responding to our call to action. With the ongoing budget battles in Washington, D.C., we need to deliver the message to Congress that in order to survive and thrive, those impacted by stroke must have ongoing access to Take action today on this important issuemedically necessary treatments, including therapy services. It only takes a minute to make a big difference for stroke survivors everywhere. Take action on this important issue today!

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Learn How to Make a Difference for Stroke

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What if through a few simple actions your stroke support group could preserve access to therapy services for over 1 million people? How about if you could help protect funding for critical stroke-related research? Would you take those actions?

Of course you would, and we can show you how. Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 1:00 p.m. EDT for our free online educational session on How to Quickly and Easily Mobilize Your Stroke Support Group for Maximum Advocacy Impact.

During this session, we’ll talk about the multi-billion dollar decisions Congress is making today that will affect stroke survivors for years to come. Most importantly, we’ll provide specific strategies and actions your group can employ now to join the fight to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke. Congress needs to understand how decisions made in Washington, D.C. impact stroke survivors, caregivers and their families on the ground. You and the other members of your stroke support group are the best people to help them understand that – by telling them how stroke has impacted you and your loved ones.

Register for this webinarAs patient advocates, you already have a wealth of effective advocacy tools at your disposal. This gives us a huge advantage in the political arena. Armed with this power, we will be heard! Join us and find out how you can get started today.

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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.