Smith Awarded Prestigious ‘National Public Service Award’ from American Heart Association
Today, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chair of the House of Representatives panel on global health, received the American Heart Association’s 2017 National Public Service Award during the Association’s national advocacy summit; Smith was honored for “building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease.”
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death nationally and globally: 1 in 3 American deaths are caused by CVD. In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, CVD killed over 800,000 people in America.
“I want to thank the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association for your unsurpassed advocacy, professionalism, compassion and impact at all levels of society-local, state and federal,” said Smith, co-Chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition, a bipartisan, bicameral group of over 100 Members of Congress who are committed to advancing policies to assist individuals with CVD and raising awareness.
In February 2017, Smith was the Congressional headliner for the briefing hosted by the American Heart Association and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, in coordination with the Coalition on Heart and Stroke, entitled “Women and Heart Health: A Guide to Staying Heart Healthy.” This briefing highlighted the need for increased awareness of CVD as the number one cause of death for women.
In announcing the award, the American Heart Association noted Smith’s commitment through his work as co-Chair of the Heart and Stroke Coalition, as well as his support of legislation to support CVD patients, including the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R. 1676), the Congenital Heart Future Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1222), the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act (H.R. 1148), the Pulmonary Hypertension Research and Diagnosis Act (H.R. 3520) and the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (H.R. 1953).
Throughout his time in Congress, Smith has advocated for additional resources for the National Institutes Health (NIH) to ensure projects that seek to find cures, improve treatments and gain a better understanding of the complex causes of diseases that affect millions of Americans are well funded. He strongly backed the successful effort to double the NIH budget over a five-year time period—from its 1998 base of $13.7 billion to the 2003 level of $27.1 billion—and continues to work to boost NIH’s resources to match the demand.
More recently, Smith supported legislation that passed the House last Congress which increased funding for NIH. The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2016 (P.L. 114-113)—which Smith supported and was signed into law on December 18, 2015—increased funding for NIH from $30 billion to $32 billion for FY 2016. This $2 billion boost represented the largest increase the agency has received in twelve years.
“We need to increase funding for NIH to $36 billion and ensure a minimum of $3.4 billion to the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and at least $1.8 billion for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,” said Smith, who led a letter to the House Appropriations Committee in April in support of increased funding across NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as for CVD specific programs.
Smith also discussed the impact that CVD has globally—killing 17 million people every year. Smith plans to address the impact of CVD globally at a hearing this Congress.
The prestigious award Smith received was established in 1982 and is presented each year to Members of Congress who have promoted the American Heart Association’s mission to reduce disability and death from heart attack, stroke, and other forms of cardiovascular disease.