May is Asthma Awareness Month. Approximately seven million children in the U.S are asthma suffers, making it the single most common chronic condition among American children. Unfortunately, poor and minority children are afflicted at even greater rates. The prevalence of asthma has increased over the last decade from 8.7 percent in 2001 to 9.5 percent in 2011 despite advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
Public policy plays an important in helping children with asthma stay healthy and access care. That is why the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition (CALC) has developed an Asthma Awareness Month 2013 Coalition Toolkit. The toolkit offers ideas and examples that may be useful to Community Health Centers and help them boost awareness of the problem among policymakers to strengthen the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of asthma in children.
According to the coalition, while Medicaid has played a role in helping underserved populations gain access to effective community asthma programs, it typically doesn’t offer coverage for non‐traditional asthma services or traditional services provided in non‐clinical settings. Many Community Health Centers, however, provide targeted treatment and prevention of asthma for people of all ages. More likely to treat patients with chronic illnesses than other primary care physicians, eight percent of health center visits involving chronic conditions are asthma related. In 2011 almost 946,000 patient visits to Community Health Centers were related to asthma.
To further highlight new and ongoing community-based interventions CALC released the white paper entitled, Using Medicaid to Advance Community-Based Childhood Asthma Interventions. Member organizations are also visiting Members of Congress to discuss the need for increased Medicaid reimbursement for effective community-based interventions.
For more on the toolkit visit the CALC website.