American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest and Health Care Service Corporation Partner to Improve Asthma Care

(September 18, 2012)

New Program Seeks to Impact 480,000 Children Over Three Years in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas



Media Contact:
Jill Heins Nesvold, MS, Project Director
American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest
(651) 223-9578

Lauren Plungas
Senior Manager, Media and Public Relations
Health Care Service Corporation
(312) 653-5644

Chicago, IL - The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest (ALAUM) and Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) have announced a joint initiative to improve pediatric asthma care to an estimated 480,000 children over the next three years in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. In partnership with HCSC’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families (HKHF), a three-year initiative with the goal of improving the health and wellness of at least one million children in its four states, HCSC will support the “Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project,” a program that implements community-based interventions to improve the health outcomes of children with asthma.

HCSC, operator of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, will partner with ALAUM to provide monthly training and mentoring focused on improving asthma care to 60 clinics that serve high-risk populations. The program aims to directly impact children with asthma and their caregivers, community leaders and educators, resulting in improved long-term care outcomes.

According to survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 12 percent of America’s children have asthma and the average yearly cost of care for a child with asthma is $1,039. Through HKHF, the “Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma” project will work to improve pediatric asthma care by implementing systems in partnering clinics that support and adhere to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) asthma guidelines to enhance asthma treatment guidelines for children. By using HCSC's proprietary claims information, the project will target areas with the highest frequency or rate of asthma-related claims and recruit clinics to participate in a year-long training program that focuses on improving guidelines-based asthma care at their clinic. This innovative process will better identify communities that would significantly benefit from these services, resulting in improved health outcomes for those patients who are affected by asthma. 

“This joint initiative will help us to empower more medical providers, caregivers and those afflicted with asthma with the education and resources they need to enhance their knowledge of asthma signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment,” said Harold Wimmer, chief executive officer, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest. “We are excited for the opportunity to expand this successful program to our partners in the Southwest and Plains-Gulf Region.”

“Public health experts, schools, and healthcare providers recognize that poorly managed childhood asthma is a pressing public health and social problem. According to the CDC asthma is the leading chronic illness among children and the number one cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness,” said Dr. Paul Handel, chief medical officer, HCSC. “At HCSC, we are dedicated to addressing this devastating disease and – considering that less than half of people with asthma reported being taught how to avoid triggers – we believe that education is the key to managing asthma.”

Since 2006, the ALAUM has partnered with health providers at more than 60 clinics in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to develop the model for the new initiative. The “Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project” is the ALAUM’s first major collaborative initiative with the American Lung Associations in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative reflects HCSC’s commitment to make a meaningful difference across all of the areas we serve. Since the initiative’s inception, HCSC has granted more than $6 million to more than 90 community partners across the four states it serves.  Additional “Healthy Kids, Healthy Families” pillar partners include:

  • The OrganWise Guys – a nutrition and physical activity program that encourages children to take charge of their health by making the connection between healthy food choices and their organs. In 2011, HCSC funded 49 schools helping to improve nutrition education for approximately 24,500 children.
  • KaBOOM! – a partnership that encourages youth to incorporate exercise into their daily lives with healthy play. Since 2009, we’ve worked with KaBOOM! to build 18 playgrounds and are working to  build another 11 playgrounds in 2012.
  • The CareVans Program – in an effort to provide preventive care to uninsured and medically underserved children and adults, each of HCSC’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans operates a mobile immunization outreach program. In 2011, HCSC served 111,520 people with 145,243 immunizations and 43,366 other health services, which may include blood pressure screenings, body fat analysis, HIV testing, health education and dental services.
  • – as part of HCSC’s commitment to safe environments for children and families in the communities it serves, our partnership with aims to better equip our communities to respond to the growing epidemic of teen dating violence through tailored, on-the-ground outreach and awareness programs. is a collaboration between Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline.