Taking Stock of Heart Health Policy

A Mid-Year Update

If it wasn’t already high on the legislative agenda, health policy certainly took the spotlight in the last year and a half as the world battled a pandemic and elected officials worked to respond. WomenHeart has worked to capitalize on the moment to advocate for policies that support women living with and at risk of heart disease, both in the context of COVID-19 and based on our priorities that existed before 2020.

In the last six months, we have joined partner organizations in requesting increased funding for NIH and CDC – to ensure that medical research and prevention efforts grow in the future – and advocating for measures that make health coverage accessible, adequate and affordable for all.  In addition, here is an update of some specific bills we are fighting for:

  • CAROL Act: The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy Act would invest in research to address gaps in our understanding of heart valve disease, including what causes sudden cardiac arrest in a small number of people, predominantly women. The bill also invests in education efforts to broaden awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of heart valve disease and in efforts to increase screening, detection and diagnosis of heart valve disease, something that is especially important for women in underserved communities. The bill has been introduced in the House (H.R. 1193) and Senate (S. 1133) and enjoys strong bipartisan support. Email your members of Congress today and ask them to cosponsor this legislation.
  • Protecting Seniors through Immunization Act would reduce financial barriers for those on Medicare by providing coverage of adult vaccines in Part D with no additional cost-sharing for beneficiaries, just like vaccines under Part B are covered. Even before the pandemic, there were disparities in vaccination rates for different communities and a need to address those inequities. The bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House (H.R. 1978) and Senate (S. 912). The House Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce discussed the need for this bill at a hearing on June 15, 2021.
  • Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act would expand and expedite patient access to cardiac rehab services by authorizing advance practice providers to order and supervise cardiac rehab under Medicare starting in 2022, rather than waiting until 2024 when it will become authorized under law. Today, only physicians are authorized to order and supervise cardiac rehab for Medicare patients, often creating unnecessary barriers or delays in care. The bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House (H.R. 1956) and Senate (S. 1986).
  • Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act works to address nearly every dimension of the Black maternal health crisis in the U.S., including the impact of heart health on maternal health. Among other things, the bill would expand coverage of Medicaid to twelve months post-partum. Certain heart conditions like peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) and Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) are more likely to present not only late in pregnancy, but often in the months after. Early in the year, each of the twelve titles of the Momnibus was introduced as a standalone bill by a Member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

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