Illinois Residents with Asthma Threatened by Potential Federal Budget Cuts

May 05, 2011, 12:30 ET from American Lung Association

American Lung Association urges Congress to fully fund the National Asthma Control Program in Fiscal Year 2012

CHICAGO, May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association in Illinois announced today its strong support for continued funding of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) National Asthma Control Program, which has worked to integrate and coordinate the public health response to asthma control in Illinois and across the country. The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 proposes a merger of the National Asthma Control Program with the Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and debilitating cuts to both budgets by over 50 percent.  This poses serious risks to the more than 762,000 adults and almost 300,000 children in Illinois who suffer from asthma.

Asthma remains a significant public health problem in the United States.  In its Morbidity and Mortality Report released this week (May 3), the CDC announced an increase in asthma across the U.S.  Findings included the following:

  • One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8 percent of the population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7 percent) in 2001.
  • Over half (53 percent) of Americans with asthma reported having an asthma attack in 2008.  Children were more likely to have reported an asthma attack than adults.  
  • The greatest increase in asthma prevalence was seen among black children – an almost 50 percent increase from 2001 to 2009.  
  • Eleven percent of all African Americans and 17 percent of black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups reported.

"Despite the increase in asthma prevalence, the CDC is at the same time proposing dramatic cuts in funding of the National Asthma Control Program," said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.    

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. In 2007, asthma hospitalizations cost Illinois $280.4 million, however, this represents a decline from recent years, which can be attributed to the state's work to help people properly manage their asthma.  

"People in the state of Illinois have benefited tremendously from the National Asthma Control Program's work to help patients understand and manage their disease," said Harold Wimmer, CEO of the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.  "These potential budget cuts to this federal program would have serious state-based public health consequences, resulting in likely increases in asthma attacks or episodes."  

The President's Budget request proposes to reduce the number of states funded by the National Asthma Control Program from 36 to 15.  It could result in the elimination of funding for Illinois' asthma control program.   The American Lung Association expressed its concern over these potential budget cuts in a May 3 letter to Congress.

"This would drastically reduce Illinois' capacity to implement a proven public health response to this disease," said Wimmer.  "We can't roll back the progress we've made in managing this disease."  

Since its inception in 1999, the National Asthma Control Program has worked to integrate and coordinate the public health response to asthma control. Working through states, the National Asthma Control Program has made great strides in collecting data on asthma and making sure patients understand how to manage their disease so they have fewer attacks, or episodes.  

In Illinois, work done through the Illinois Asthma Partnership has helped reduce hospitalizations from asthma by 18 percent over the past several years.  This partnership includes 140 member organizations statewide that work with people with asthma, caregivers, school officials and medical professionals to ensure that asthma attacks are recognized and properly managed.  The result has been that asthma deaths have also steadily declined over the past decade, however, certain populations continue to be disproportionately affected by asthma.  For example, the black population in Illinois has the highest prevalence of asthma, and the death-rate is four times that of the overall population.

The American Lung Association is urging Congress to ensure that CDC's National Asthma Control Program remains a stand-alone program and receives an appropriation of $31 million for Fiscal Year 2012.  This will give the National Asthma Control Program sufficient resources to continue its work to reduce the burden of asthma in Illinois and in other states.  

May is Asthma Awareness Month.  For more information, please visit:

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SOURCE American Lung Association