Organizations Rally Support for National Asthma Program

The American Association for Respiratory Care and the American Lung Association are among nine groups sending a joint letter to members of Congress urging that its funding continue.

An estimated 24 million Americans have asthma, and a new population-based study presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has linked it a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Nine public health groups are now warning that proposed cuts to the National Asthma Control Program jeopardize the national and state-specific surveillance programs it has put in place.

The program began in 1999. The groups say President Obama's proposed FY2012 budget recommends merging it with the Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, cutting their combined budget by more than 50 percent, and reducing 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 school-based asthma programs will be eliminated," the groups say in their letter.

They cite an American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care study that found a $36 benefit for each dollar invested in asthma interventions, and they ask that the National Asthma Control Program remain a stand-alone program with $31 million in funding for FY2012.

The groups include the American Association for Respiratory Care, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the American College of Chest Physicians.

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