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Statement by American Heart Association President Timothy Gardner, M.D. on Congressional Approval of Economic Stimulus Package

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by American Heart Association President Timothy Gardner, M.D. on congressional approval of the economic stimulus package:

Key provisions in the economic stimulus package are a win-win for Americans as they struggle to balance healthcare challenges with increased financial burdens. Americans suffering from chronic disease are facing harsh realities in this economic crisis -- see a doctor or pay for food and shelter. We're pleased that this legislation will help alleviate some of their financial concerns and provide resources to help prevent and treat heart disease, stroke and other life-threatening illnesses. Several provisions supported by the American Heart Association will significantly improve quality of care, including those that advance medical research at the National Institutes of Health, promote health information technology to improve healthcare quality, support state-based prevention programs and allows for the renovation of school facilities to address our nation's childhood obesity epidemic. With more Americans losing jobs and health benefits as a result of the economic downturn, we're also encouraged that the unemployed will receive assistance for extended health insurance.

Among the provisions supported by the American Heart Association:

Funding for the National Institutes of Health

The $10 billion investment is a significant down payment on President Obama's pledge to double science funding over the next decade. We thank Senators Specter and Harkin and the conferees for recognizing that NIH funding can help cure the economy as well as disease.

Funding for Health Information Technology

Our broken health care system desperately needs the technology and clinical-decision making tools to prevent medical errors, reduce health disparities and improve quality of care. HIT is a building block for health reform and this package will help stimulate provider adoption of HIT and address inefficiencies in the system.

Prevention-Wellness Trust

We know that through effective prevention efforts, we can greatly reduce the human and economic toll of cardiovascular disease in this country. We're pleased that $1 billion has been included in the package for immunizations for children and adults and evidence-based community and clinical strategies to fight chronic disease and reduce health care costs.

State Fiscal Stabilization Funding

We're hopeful some of the stabilization funding will be used to renovate school facilities to promote physical activity in local communities. The childhood obesity epidemic should accelerate efforts to renovate outdated, unsafe, and inadequate facilities in our nation's schools.

COBRA Assistance

Making COBRA coverage more affordable for Americans who have lost their jobs will close gaps in care for many who need ongoing treatment for chronic disease. The uninsured with heart disease or stroke have higher mortality rates and are more likely to report foregoing needed treatments due to cost.

SOURCE American Heart Association
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