Opening a Dialogue on Quality Asthma Care
(June 29, 2016)
Asthma is a serious, chronic lung disease that makes breathing difficult for an estimated 24 million Americans, including 6.3 million children. There is no cure for asthma but it can be effectively managed with care that is based on the nationally recognized guidelines for diagnosing and managing asthma. The American Lung Association's Asthma Care Coverage Project creates a dialogue about patient access to this potentially life-saving care and improves the quality of life for the millions with asthma in the Medicaid population.
Asthma can start at any age, and impacts lives well beyond gym class. It is the third-leading cause of hospitalizations for children and a leading cause of school absenteeism. Numerous studies show that patients experience better health outcomes, including fewer hospitalizations, fewer days of missed school and lower treatment costs, when they adhere to care that is based on nationally recognized guidelines (National Asthma Education and Prevention Program's [NAEPP] guidelines). Access to guidelines-based asthma care is especially critical for those with Medicaid, as asthma rates are disproportionately high in low-income and minority populations, and low-income children and adults are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than those with higher incomes. As a result, Medicaid was the most commonly expected primary payer for asthma-related hospital stays for both children and adults aged 18 to 44. That's why it's critical for patients to have access to evidence-based best practices in care.
Despite the establishment of nationally recognized guidelines, a gap remains between what is known to be best practice in improving asthma outcomes, and what is being covered by state Medicaid programs. The American Lung Association will use this resource to foster further dialogue between Medicaid and the asthma community to work together to improve asthma health outcomes through increased access to guidelines-based asthma care.
As part of this Project, the Lung Association's Asthma Guidelines-Based Care Initiative takes a comprehensive approach to track state Medicaid coverage and barriers to access to seven different areas of care from the NAEPP guidelines. The seven different areas include:
- Quick relief and controller medications
- Allergy testing
- Allergen immunotherapy
- Home visits and interventions
- Self-management education
As a result of its in-depth look into state Medicaid coverage, the American Lung Association has created state summaries describing both coverage and barriers to accessing asthma guidelines-based care for patients with asthma enrolled in state asthma programs.
The American Lung Association is the only place in the country where people can learn whether or not their state Medicaid population has access to the guidelines-based care they need to treat their asthma.
This project represents a unique opportunity for you and your community to use these resources to educate patients, providers and decision makers about the importance of access to asthma guidelines-based care in Medicaid.