New Yorkers with Asthma Threatened by Potential Federal Budget Cuts

American Lung Association urges Congress to fully fund the National Asthma Control Program in Fiscal Year 2012

ALBANY, NY (05/05/2011)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York announced today its strong support for continued funding of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Asthma Control Program, which has worked to integrate and coordinate the public health response to asthma control in New York and across the country. The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 proposes a merger of the National Asthma Control Program with the Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and debilitating cuts to both budgets by over 50 percent. This poses serious risks to the over 1.3 million adults and 415,000 children in New York that suffer from asthma.

Asthma remains a significant public health problem in the United States. In its Morbidity and Mortality Report released this week (May 3), the CDC announced an increase in asthma across the U.S. Findings included the following:

• One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8 percent of the population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7 percent) in 2001.

• Over half (53 percent) of Americans with asthma reported having an asthma attack in 2008. Children were more likely to have reported an asthma attack than adults.

• The greatest increase in asthma prevalence was seen among black children – an almost 50 percent increase from 2001 to 2009.

• Eleven percent of all African Americans and 17 percent of black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups reported.

Despite these increased rates of asthma, the CDC is at the same time proposing dramatic cuts in funding to the National Asthma Control Program.

On May 4, the American Lung Association in New York led a coalition of public health groups, environmental groups and community groups in sending a letter to Senators Schumer, Gillibrand and the New York congressional delegation urging them to support full funding for the CDC's National Asthma Control program.

Learning to control and manage asthma is key to maintaining a normal, healthy life. Not only does asthma claim the lives of nine Americans each and every day, it is a leading cause of school absences and accounted for over 1.9 million lost school days in New York. Asthma hospitalizations cost New York $535 million in 2007, and Medicaid spent $170 million that same year on asthma-related services in New York.

"New Yorkers benefit tremendously from the National Asthma Control Program's work to help patients understand and manage their disease," said Michael Seilback, American Lung Association in New York. "The potential budget cuts to this federal program would have serious public health consequences, and will likely result in increases in asthma attacks."

With the President's Budget request proposing to reduce the number of states and territories funded by the National Asthma Control Program from 36 to 15, it is possible that federal funding for New York's asthma control program could be completely eliminated. A cut of this magnitude would have a devastating effect on the work being done within New York including the state's Asthma Control Program, a division of the Department of Health. The American Lung Association expressed its concern over these potential budget cuts in a May 3 letter to Congress.

Since its inception in 1999, the National Asthma Control Program has worked to integrate and coordinate the public health response to asthma control. Working through states, the National Asthma Control Program has made great strides in collecting data on asthma and making sure patients understand how to manage their disease so they have fewer attacks, or episodes. Since 1999, deaths and hospitalizations due to asthma have decreased even though the number of Americans diagnosed with the disease has risen.

Asthma is an epidemic in New York with significant public health and financial consequences. It is a common childhood chronic disease and a leading cause of school absenteeism. Over 1.3 million adults (9.8 percent) and almost 415,000 children (10 percent) in New York have asthma. In some areas, the rates are even higher with one in four children having asthma, which is one of the highest prevalence rates in the country. While asthma hospitalizations have been declining due to New York's action to control asthma, asthma hospitalization rates in New York remain more than two times the Healthy People 2010 Objectives.

New York's Asthma Control Program serves all 62 counties across the state. The program has helped lead to 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 leads to healthcare cost savings. New York's asthma control program is a model of success for the country. In fact, New York has provided 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 has provided services to over 67,000 children with asthma.

The American Lung Association is urging Congress to ensure that CDC's National Asthma Control Program remains a stand-alone program and receives an appropriation of $31 million for Fiscal Year 2012. This will give the National Asthma Control Program sufficient resources to continue its work to reduce the burden of asthma in New York and in other states.

May is Asthma Awareness Month. For more information, please visit: To take action by telling Congress not to slash funding for asthma programs, please visit:

About the American Lung Association

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit