Barre resident and two-time stroke survivor lobbying for policy change

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BARRE — Barre resident and stroke survivor Jamie Heath visited Washington DC this week to lobby on behalf of the American Heart Association.

Jamie was joined by her mother, Joanne Leclerc, and Dr. Prospero Gogo of the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Together, they are meeting with Vermont congressional members to advocate for policy change around restricting tobacco flavorings to reduce the want and need for today’s youth to smoke or vape, as well as for a change in Balance billing, and NIH federal funding of heart disease and stroke research.

While some e-cigarette companies are removing select flavors from the market, mint and menthol flavors are still available and popular among youth.

Flavors, including menthol, make tobacco products less harsh and more appealing to youth and other inexperienced tobacco users.

Studies show 81 percent of youth who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product.

The American Heart Association is urging Congress and the administration to move forward without delay to remove all flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, from the market.

The American Heart Association is also asking for support behind legislation that would protect patients from financially crippling surprise medical bills.

Nearly 60 percent of insured Americans have received a surprise medical bill for care they thought was covered by their insurance.

Cardiovascular patients are particularly susceptible to these bills because of the unexpected and urgent nature of the event and the care.

More than 800,000 cardiovascular events occur each year outside of hospital settings.

The group is also asking for the nation to continue the commitment to funding research for heart disease and stroke.