AHA spreads heart clinics across the country through new act in Congress.
In 1965, the AHA president worked closely with Congress to establish the Regional Medical Programs Service as part of the NHI, which, through a contract with the AHA, went through an elaborate process to set up standards for cardiovascular care across the country.
Ten months later, in October 1965, from legislation introduced by Senator Lister Hill of Alabama and Representative Oren Harris of Arkansas, the Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke Amendments became law (Public Law 89-239). The act authorized the establishment and maintenance of Regional Medical Programs. Its purpose was " to encourage and assist in the establishment of regional cooperative arrangements among medical schools, research institutions, and hospitals for research and training, including continuing education, and for related demonstration of patient care . . . . " (Sec. 900, Public Law 89-239). Fifty-six regions were established, covering the nation, including Puerto Rico. In December 1965, the National Advisory Council on Regional Medical Programs met to initiate the program, and in February, Dr. Robert Q. Marston was appointed first Director of the Division of RMP, an NIH office. Dr. Marston served as Associate Director of NIH, under Director James A. Shannon. The National Advisory Council awarded the first planning grants in April 1966, followed by the first operational grants ten months later, in February 1967. By the end of that year, sixty-one Regional Medical Programs had been designated and four of these were operational. Most programs were located at or near university medical schools.