President Puts Millions with Asthma at Risk by Repeating Proposal to Eliminate CDC National Asthma Program

Statement of the American Lung Association

Washington, D.C. (February 14, 2012)

Ignoring instructions from Congress to “continue its support of the National Asthma Control Program as currently structured,” President Obama and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are again putting the 25 million Americans, including 7 million children, with asthma at risk by proposing to eliminate the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program. Despite a clear message from Congress, the President’s Budget again proposes to reduce the number of states funded by the National Asthma Control Program from 36 to 15 – which will drastically affect these life-saving programs.

“Last year, the American Lung Association and its health partners successfully mobilized a nationwide campaign to save the National Asthma Control Program,” said Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “And once again, we will work together to aggressively defend funding of this lifesaving program.”

In February of 2011, for fiscal year 2012 President Obama proposed the consolidation of the National Asthma Control Program with the Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and reducing their combined budgets by over 50 percent. In the final fiscal year 2012 omnibus appropriations bill signed into law in December, Congress restored the funding and the structure of the National Asthma Control Program and sent a clear message to the Administration that they were to leave this stand-alone program intact.

Prior to the creation of the National Asthma Control Program by Congress in 1999, there was a lack of surveillance, or data collection, about asthma. Now, there are national and state-specific surveillance systems in place, which allow officials to track and better understand asthma trends – ultimately allowing decision-makers to focus resources on effective asthma prevention and  management strategies among populations that are most in need.

Progress has also been made to improve awareness and management of asthma in schools across the country, which is critical to keeping children safe away from home. Since 1999, asthma-related mortality and hospitalizations have decreased even though asthma prevalence has risen. This likely indicates a better level of disease education and management. However, it also means that as asthma rates continue to rise, more people than ever will need assistance in understanding and controlling their disease.

According to the CDC, asthma prevalence rates are at an all-time high. Females, children, African-Americans and Puerto Ricans have higher rates of asthma. 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.

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