National Asthma Control Program: Big Impact, Small Cost

(May 6, 2013)

You could call it “The little program that could.” The National Asthma Control Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides exceptional bang-for-the-buck in the fight to control asthma. When battling a disease that affects more than 25 million Americans, causes almost 3,400 deaths a year, and racks up more than $56 billion in annual health care costs, preserving this lifesaving, yet cost-effective program is more important than ever.

The National Asthma Control Program (NACP) tackles asthma on three fronts. It tracks how many people with asthma live in states and where; it promotes asthma control and prevention; and provides much needed investments in state and community health programs. NAACP supports asthma control and prevention programs in 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These states partner with community-based organizations to make sure that the programs reach those most in need. These community-based programs train educators and health professionals to diagnose, treat, and manage asthma. They teach children and their families to recognize, prevent, and control symptoms. These programs also help school districts implement asthma management programs and develop asthma policies for students.

How affective is NACP? Since it was put in place in 1999, asthma death rates have decreased more than 45 percent, even as asthma prevalence has increased by more than 10 percent. At a cost of less than $30 million dollars a year, NACP is one of our great public health bargains. But it’s funding is now at risk, and that puts millions of American’s also at risk.

The American Lung Association is urging Congress to continue to fund the National Asthma Control Program at a level that will continue to show such outstanding results for such a comparatively modest investment. We recommend NACP funding be at least $28.4 million for fiscal year 2014, which is also the amount requested by President Obama in his budget request.

It is more important than ever to provide the resources necessary to fight asthma. In 2011, the CDC reported that less than half of people with asthma had been taught how to avoid asthma triggers. The CDC concluded that more education about triggers, proper treatment, and asthma management methods are needed – all things that NACP directly provides to those who can benefit the most. It is imperative that the National Asthma Control Program continue working in communities to decrease the number of deaths caused by asthma, reduce the hospitalizations and emergency department visits caused by asthma, and increase the number of areas with comprehensive surveillance systems for tracking asthma cases.

As asthma rates continue to climb, you can join us on May 8 for Asthma Funding Call-In Day and tell Congress to continue funding this vital tool so that it can continue to reduce the burden of asthma and keep our communities and children healthy.