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Introducing Legislation to Fight Asthma

Family Asthma Act requires CDC to partner with state and local health departments.

On November 27, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and I introduced the “Family Asthma Act,” which encourages partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels to address the asthma epidemic in the United States. With more than 25 million Americans affected by asthma, the bill seeks to develop comprehensive state plans to fight the disease and increase public education and awareness of its effects.

Whether it's the chronic effects of neighborhood pollution or the more immediate threat posed by mold in homes flooded by Superstorm Sandy, asthma is a problem that can be avoided but still affects too many Americans of all ages. The Family Asthma Act can help save lives and help reduce the billions of dollars in healthcare costs that our nation spends on this too-common disease.

The “Family Asthma Act” requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to partner with state and local health departments to develop state asthma plans and carry out public education campaigns about asthma. The bill bolsters data collection to help target asthma interventions more effectively. It also requires CDC to make recommendations about the future of asthma prevention and management efforts.

The American Lung Association has endorsed the legislation:

“The American Lung Association has worked tirelessly for many years to improve the lives—indeed, save the lives—of people with asthma. The Family Asthma Act will make a significant step forward in that effort, and will make a meaningful difference in the lives of people living with asthma,” said Paul G. Billings, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Education at the American Lung Association.

Asthma affects more than 25 million Americans, 13 million of whom have had an asthma episode or attack over the last year. The disease kills 3,300 people and contributes to an additional 7,000 deaths every year. In addition, asthma causes 10.5 million missed school days and 14.2 million missed work days and costs the United States $50 billion in healthcare expenditures every year.

Asthma attacks can be triggered by air pollution and allergens, including cigarette smoke and exhaust smoke, as well as animal dander, pollen, and molds. In 2011, CDC reported that less than half of people with asthma had been taught how to avoid asthma triggers. CDC concluded that more education about triggers, proper treatment, and asthma management methods are needed.

Carolyn McCarthy is the representative of New York’s Fourth Congressional District. She was first elected in 1996.


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