American Lung Association Expresses Concern over Proposed Federal Funding Cuts to National Asthma Control Program

Washington, D.C. (May 2, 2011)

With May 3 as World Asthma Day, and May as Asthma Awareness Month, the American Lung Association and 15 public health and other organizations expressed their strong support for the National Asthma Control Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a letter being sent to Congress tomorrow.  The letter also expressed concern with the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2012, which 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.

Asthma remains a significant public health problem in the United States and is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15. It is a leading cause of school absences from chronic disease and accounted for over 10.5 million lost school days in 2008. Asthma costs our healthcare system over $50.1 billion annually and indirect costs from lost productivity add another $5.9 billion, for a total of $56 billion dollars annually.

“The proposed cuts to the CDC’s Asthma Control Program would have a detrimental impact on the more than 24 million Americans that currently have asthma, 7 million of whom are children,” said Charles D. Connor, CEO of the American Lung Association. “In New York, for example, there has been a 30 percent reduction in the overall asthma death rate. This kind of impact can be seen in states across the country and we can’t afford to roll back progress in treating and managing asthma.”

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.

The President’s Budget proposes to reduce the number of states funded by the National Asthma Control Program from 36 to 15. This would drastically reduce states’ capacity to implement a proven public health response to this disease, as well as significantly set back the progress in managing the disease that has been made these past 12 years. In addition, at least half of the CDC-funded school-based asthma programs will be eliminated.

“The National Asthma Control Program has made a tremendous difference in the lives and well-being of the millions of Americans with asthma,” Connor continued. “The American Lung Association and our partners ask 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 in U.S. caused by asthma.”

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