Lung Association Commends Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for Protecting CDC's National Asthma Control Program

American Lung Association again leads effort to defend vital prevention and education program

ALBANY, NY (06/14/2012)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York is delighted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations' recognition of the vital role the National Asthma Control Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plays in the lives of Americans living with asthma. Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Committee again voted to keep the National Asthma Control Program as a stand-alone program and maintained its funding level of $25.3 million for fiscal year 2013.

The American Lung Association led a coalition of health partners who strongly opposed the Obama Administration's proposal to eliminate the program. In February, a joint letter was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate urging them to support and protect this program.

"Asthma is an epidemic in New York with significant public health and financial consequences. We applaud Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in protecting the CDC's National Asthma Control Program," said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. "Funding this program will ensure New York's communities have resources to address this disease in an effective and coordinated approach."

The U.S. House of Representatives' Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies is expected to consider funding for the CDC's National Asthma Control Program on June 20. The American Lung Association asks the House Subcommittee to support the National Asthma Control Program as a separate, stand-alone program and to fund it at $25.3 million again in FY13.

New York's Asthma Control Program serves all 62 counties across the state. The program has led to a 42 percent decrease in the asthma death rate and a 13 percent decrease in asthma hospitalizations in New York. Keeping our children out of the emergency room is not only good for public health, it reduces healthcare costs. New York's asthma control program has been a model of success for the country, providing technical expertise to at least 15 other states' asthma control programs. Over the last five years, this program has worked in over 1,700 schools in over 450 school districts; worked with over 7,800 health care providers; and provided services to over 67,000 children with asthma.

The New York City school system receives CDC funding for school-based asthma programs, including New York City ASSIST. While the more than 100,000 New York City schools students who have asthma benefit from this grant, the program is focused on making sure the 40 percent of homeless children who have asthma can properly manage their disease. Specifically, ASSIST works to identify homeless children with asthma, track them using school health records, provide follow-up referrals for health insurance and medical care, and ensure that children with uncontrolled asthma have access to self-management education, and long term control medicines. The goal of the program is to reduce emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and school absences among this very vulnerable population.

Since its inception in 1999, the CDC's National Asthma Control Program has ensured a coordinated public health response that focuses on people at greatest risk from this disease. Since 1999, mortality and hospitalizations due to asthma have decreased even though asthma prevalence has risen, which likely indicates a better level of disease management. Unfortunately, it also means more people than ever will need assistance in understanding and controlling their disease.

"As asthma rates continue to rise, this vital program is more important than ever to keep our children safe and help people better understand and manage their disease," said Seyler.

Asthma affects more than 774,000 adults, including more than 444,000 children in New York. Nationally, it is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15 and is a leading cause of school absences from chronic disease – accounting for more than 10.5 million lost school days in 2008. Asthma costs our healthcare system more than $50.1 billion annually and indirect costs from lost productivity add another $5.9 billion, for a total of $56 billion dollars annually. Asthma claims the lives of almost 3,500 Americans each year, or approximately nine people per day.


About the American Lung Association of the Northeast

The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT.