American Heart Association Volunteers Visit White House for Cardiovascular Health Briefing

September 12, 2016 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., September 12, 2016 — Volunteer advocates traveled to Washington, D.C. on September 9 for a briefing hosted by the White House in partnership with the American Heart Association. Part of the White House’s event series, “Making Health Care Better,” this forum exclusively focused on cardiovascular health. The half day event brought together nearly 200 American Heart Association volunteers and staff from across the country, as well as participants from partner groups.

Several top Obama administration officials took part in the briefing. Notably, the Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, introduced by American Heart Association President, Dr. Steven Houser, kicked off the event, and the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf gave closing remarks. 

Panel presentations throughout the afternoon concentrated on different aspects of heart health. The first panel, moderated by Dr. Mandy Cohen (Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) highlighted the progress made in terms of research, access and coverage for heart disease patients and stroke survivors. Event attendees heard dialogue from an esteemed panel that included: Dr. Gary H. Gibbons (Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health), Dr. Nancy Lee (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health – Women’s Health for the Department of Health and Human Services), Dr. Shari Ling (Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), and Debra Eschmeyer (Executive Director of Let's Move!).

The second presentation featured patient and provider panelists from around the U.S. Gracie Doran (Laguna Niguel, California), Marcie Wilson (Lakeway, Texas), Pkaye Washington (Austin, Texas), and Chris McLachlin (Honolulu, Hawaii) were the American Heart Association volunteers invited to speak on this panel. Each of these volunteers shared his or her story about suffering from heart disease or stroke and provided a unique perspective to deepen the conversation about heart and brain health. Moderated by Dr. Karen DeSalvo (Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services), this panel overall stressed that working together through effective policy can reduce and ultimately end heart disease and stroke.

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown was joined by representatives from Million Hearts, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, YMCA USA, WomenHeart, the Horizon Foundation and Emory University School of Medicine on the third and final panel of the day. This group discussed effective ways to improve heart health in U.S. communities.

“We’re very proud of the progress we’ve made in helping to treat people who have had an event, but equally as important is the work of the American Heart Association in communities focused on prevention,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.

In between the panel presentations, Chris Watts (Executive Director of the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition) introduced the screening of a “History of Exercise” video with Nick Offerman and First Lady Michelle Obama. Event attendees also enjoyed an activity break led by Lauren Darensbourg (Director of the I Can Do It, You Can Do It! Program, and Manager for Strategic Partnerships for Underserved Populations, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition).

In conjunction with the briefing, the White House Domestic Policy Council released a report that outlined the accomplishments made in the heart health arena under the Obama administration’s leadership. The report highlighted the actions taken by the Obama Administration since 2009 to improve cardiovascular health research, prevention, access to care and treatment.

The American Heart Association launched a petition to encourage the next president of the United States to keep up these efforts and join the fight against cardiovascular disease – our nation’s no. 1 and most costly killer. Specifically, the petition asks that the next president embrace the following American Heart Association policy priorities during his or her time in office: ensure equitable health for all Americans, increase investments and create new models for accelerating heart disease and stroke research, build a culture of health in our nation’s communities, and increase access to quality health care.