More Than 200 Neurologists and Stroke Advocates Call on Congress to Support the BRAIN Initiative and Telestroke FAST Act

February 29, 2016 Categories: Advocacy News

What: A record number of neurologists from 41 states will meet with federal lawmakers on February 29 – March 1, 2016 for “Neurology on the Hill,” an event by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) to educate Congress on the critical role of neurologists in health care. This year, stroke advocates from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association will join AAN neurologists on Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to support the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act.

Who: Nearly 200 neurologists and 34 stroke advocates, including patients, nurses and caregivers.

Where: Congressional offices, Washington, D.C. Neurologists and stroke advocates are available for interviews.

When: February 29 – March 1, 2016

Key Issues: Together, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association will call on members of Congress to co-sponsor the FAST Act, which would require Medicare to reimburse for telestroke services, regardless of where a patient lives. Telestroke uses videoconferencing to connect stroke patients to off-site neurologists who can examine the patient, immediately interpret brain scan results and make treatment recommendations in consultation with Emergency Department personnel. Medicare currently only covers telestroke services for patients treated at a rural hospital, but not for patients at urban or suburban hospitals.

“When you have a stroke, timing is everything. Fast treatment can make a huge difference in your recovery and your quality of life thereafter,” said Mark Creager, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. “But nearly 94 percent of the strokes that occur in America take place in areas where telestroke is not paid for by Medicare. Evidence indicates that telestroke improves patient outcomes and reduces disability nationwide. We urge Congress to give more Medicare patients access to this important technology and support the FAST Act.”  

The AAN will also ask Congress for continued support and funding for the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative, announced by President Obama in 2013, is a 12-year, public-private effort which aims to improve the lives of everyone on the planet by supporting research with a goal to greatly expand our knowledge about the human brain.

“This ambitious and far-reaching initiative is aimed at developing new tools and technologies, giving neuroscientists a better understanding of the brain, said Terrence L. Cascino, MD, FAAN, President of the American Academy of Neurology. “Now that Phase 1 research is being completed, the AAN is becoming even more involved, asking Congress to extend funding so that research can translate into treatments, or even cures, for brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, migraine, stroke, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.”

Lastly, the AAN is supporting regulatory relief from Meaningful Use requirements which have pushed medical practices to switch from paper charts to electronic records and now penalize those that have not.

To date, 703 members of the AAN have participated in “Neurology on the Hill.” Follow the event at #NOH16.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 30,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association.

To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Media Contacts:

Rachel Seroka, rseroka@aan.com, (612) 928-6129

Michelle Uher, muher@aan.com, (612) 928-6120

Abbey Dively, abbey.dively@heart.org, (202) 785-7905