Iowa Bill to Protect School Children in Emergencies

Lung Association urges Senate Education Committee to pass HF 771

Asthma can be a deadly disease if flare-ups are not treated immediately. HF 771 will allow schools in Iowa to provide more immediate access to medications for students with asthma or suffering from respiratory distress. 

That’s why the American Lung Association applauds the Iowa General Assembly for considering HF 771, which passed unanimously out of the House on March 10, and we urge the Senate Education Committee to quickly pass this legislation so it can be considered in the full Senate. 

In 2019, 34% of all county asthma emergency department visits in Iowa were for children ages 5-14. Despite being the 32nd most populated state in the United States, Iowa ranks 19th for asthma prevalence.  

Because asthma attacks can occur anytime and often without warning, children with asthma should always have access to medication that can quickly reverse the blockages in their lungs. This life-saving medication, called a short-acting bronchodilator, is easy to administer, inexpensive, and very safe. HF 771 represents a simple solution that could save both lives and money.  

In total, 14 states have passed legislation or have administrative guidelines in place allowing schools to stock asthma medications (Kentucky is on its way to being the 15th state with a bill awaiting being signed into law).

Unfortunately, when children do not have asthma medication, which can occur for a variety of reasons such as forgetting it or not being able to afford it, schools have few options. In such cases, the school must call 911. With ambulances taking up to 20 minutes to reach residents in rural areas, this wait time could be detrimental to a child in respiratory distress. Ambulance transport costs $500 or more and an emergency department visit costs thousands more. These events also take children out of the classroom for days at a time and further impede their learning.

HF711 represents the simple, low-cost solution: stock medication or inhalers. For less than $100 schools can purchase a single inhaler and multiple disposable spacers that can be used for anyone who experiences an asthma attack.  

We urge the Senate Education Committee to quickly pass this legislation so it can be considered in the full Senate.

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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