Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Holds Ceremonial Signing of House Bill 185

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, April 18, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Gwenda Bond

Measure addresses high rate of heart disease in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today held a ceremonial signing of House Bill 185, which authorizes an initiative to fight the No. 1 cause of death of Kentuckians – heart disease.

The Cardiovascular Disease Initiative is designed to improve the health and well-being of Kentuckians through heightened awareness, research and education efforts. The bill also increases utilization of “e-Health” technology.

The comprehensive plan envisioned in HB 185 includes improved outreach, early identification, education and follow-up strategies for Kentuckians who suffer from or who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

“Through this innovative initiative, we’ll be able to reach more Kentuckians who are at risk or already suffering from heart disease,” Governor Fletcher said at the ceremony, which was held at the new Cardiovascular Innovation Institute in Louisville.

“This puts us in a better position to effectively diagnose and treat these patients, as well as improve their lives,” said the Governor. “That translates to lower cost, higher quality health care for everyone.” 

As of 2003, more than 280 of every 100,000 Kentuckians die from heart disease. Kentucky has the nation’s fifth-highest death rate from heart disease and the 12th highest from stroke.

“As state leaders, we must find answers to help us reduce and prevent the No. 1 cause of death in Kentucky – cardiovascular disease. This is going to take the gathering of our brightest minds along with continued research and education,” said Rep. Harry Moberly (D-Richmond). “I commend the members of the Kentucky General Assembly and the Fletcher administration for approving the Cardiovascular Disease Initiative to address this terrible health problem.”

“The Cardiovascular Disease Initiative will provide the infrastructure needed to make a strong impact, while sending the message that Kentucky is serious about our cardiovascular disease problem,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “The Fletcher administration is committed to improving the lives of all Kentuckians and that includes comprehensive, effective health measures like this one.”

HB 185 provides legislative authority to move forward aggressively with this vision by:

  • Establishing a statewide Kentucky Cardiovascular Disease Initiative (KCDI) to reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease in Kentucky.
  • Establishing a KCDI board composed of leaders from public agencies, private sector health care organizations, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions.
  • Encouraging programs to improve the health and well-being of Kentuckians, such as continued research on cardiovascular disease and treatment, the commercialization of new products, and the development of Web-based and e-Health applications and databases.
  • Promoting new cardiovascular disease outreach and educational programs.

HB 185 also contains building blocks of Kentucky’s e-Health initiative. In January, the federal government awarded Kentucky a $4.9 million grant for the Kentucky Health Information Partnership (K-HIP). This bill appropriates those funds to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for K-HIP.

It also allows for creation of a nonprofit e-Health corporation to oversee the development of K-HIP’s secure, Web-based portal. The portal will allow doctors and other authorized clinicians to access a patient’s medical history, including prescriptions, previous treatment, lab and diagnostic test results, immunizations and other basic information.

“Kentucky is uniquely poised, through the efforts of its major research universities, health care organizations, e-Health initiatives and economic development efforts, to improve the prevention, early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease while also fueling the development of new knowledge-based businesses in Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher. “This initiative holds the potential to dramatically reduce heart disease and the often devastating impact it has on Kentuckians and their families.”